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3 1924 052 423 856 

Cornell University 

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Uihil ©bstat: 


Emprimatur : 


Vic. Gen. Westmonast. 


Fr<,m the], Criitin-,/ Piclure at Clirist Cliiirdi Oxf'ird, (ixrrilmi 
to Margctn'tinlr. 












First Editwn, 8vo, July, 1912. 

Second Edition, February, 1913. 

N'ew and Clieaper Impression, Grown 8vo, January, 1914 ; 

reprinted July, 1916 ; June, 1917. 
l\ew Edition, February, 1921 
Acit) Imjjreision, June, 1925. 

Made in Great Britain 


In this new edition of my Life of St Francis I have in 
several places corrected the original text in the light 
of fuller knowledge, and have added a few footnotes. 
The chief correction regards St. Clare's attitude 
towards the Ugoline Constitutions. In the original 
text I erroneously stated that these Constitutions 
imposed upon the Poor Clares (to use the later desig- 
nation of the Poor Ladies) the possession of property. 
The Constitutions, in imposing the Benedictine Rule, 
certainly left the Sisters free to hold property. 
But Honorius III in his letter, Litterce tace, ad- 
dressed to Cardinal Ugolino on 27 August, 1218, 
expressly reserved to the Holy See the ownership of 
the land appropriated to the use of the communities 
of Poor Ladies. Whether Ugolino himself was alto- 
gether in favour of this decree is doubtful. Shortly 
after his elevation to the Pontificate he certainly 
permitted the Poor Ladies to accept property and 
endowments. I think, however, that St. Clare's main 
contention was that the sisters should be recognised 
as within the Franciscan " family " both as regards 
jurisdiction and the Rule they were to observe. 


On otlier points in regard to which this book has 
been criticised, the formation of the primitive fiaternity 
and the developments which took place under the 
rule of the Vicars, I still adhere to the conclusions 
at which I had arrived when this book was first 


Grosseteste House, 


December, 1920. 


I GLADLY take the opportunity afforded by the publi- 
cation of a second edition of my L'ife of St. Francis, 
to acknowledge the generosity and courtesy with 
which the book has been received by the reviewers. 
To the suggestions and criticisms which some of them 
have put forward, I have given careful consideration. 
In consequence, some slight alterations have been 
made in the text. 

My renewed endeavour to obtain a copy of the 
original document of the peace-treaty between Perugia 
and Assisi {vida infra, p. 18) has again been without 
result. But I must thank Mr. William Heywood, the 
author of A Histoi'y of Perugia, for kindly lending me a 
copy of Bollettino de la R.D. di Storia Fatria per 
F Umbra, Vol. VIII., in which are printed several docu- 
ments concei'ning the relations between the two Um- 
brian cities during the years 1203-1209. From these 
documents it would seem that the feud brought about 
by the action of the disaffected Assisian nobles, ex- 
tended over a long period. One document seems to 
show that a state of war existed in November, 1203 


The text of a peace-treaty is given with the date 31 
August, 1205. Not improbably, however, having re- 
gard to what seems to have been the usual course of 
things in medieval Italy, there was a succession of 
peace-makings and renewals of war before peace was 
finally established ; and the prisoners may have been 
released at one of the abortive peace- makings. 

A third document is interesting because it shows 
that even in September, 1209, Assisi had not fulfilled 
the treaty of 1205 in so far as it related to the 
restitution of their property to the disaffected nobles. 
Possibly the state of affairs implied in this document 
may have some relationship with the treaty of concord 
of November, 1210, which some writers attribute to 
the influence of St. Francis [vide infra, p. 119). If 
this be so, St. Francis' participation in the early stage 
of the war, acquires an even more dramatic character. 

One other point raised in regard to this book, 
calls for remark. A critic, less courteous than others, 
accuses me of misrepresenting the description of the 
stigmata, written by Brother Elias shortly after the 
saint's death. In the text I have adhered to the 
statements made by Celano and St. Bonaventure : in 
a footnote I refer the reader to the letter of Elias 
as further corroborative evidence to the authenticity 
of the description given in the text. But the critic 
sees a contradiction between the evidence as contained 
in the words of Elias and that given in the " oflScial " 


biographies, and he suggests that 1 deliberately with- 
held the knowledge of this contradiction from the 
unwary reader. With his insinuation of dishonesty 
of purpose, I need not concern myself. Let us come 
to the evidence given by Elias. The words are : 
Annuncio robis gaadlum magnum et 7nirar,uli novitatem. 
A seculo non est auditam tale signtim prwterquam iii 
Filio Dei, qui est Christus Deus. Non diu ante mortem 
Frater et Pater noster apparuit Crucijixus, quinque 
plagas, qu(e vere sunt stigmata Christi, portans in cor- 
pore suo ; nam manus ejus et pedes quasi puncturas 
cdawrum habuerunt ex utraque parte conflxas reservantes 
cicatrices et clavorum nigredinem ostendentes, latus vero 
ejus lanceatum apparuit et saepe sanguinem evaporavit. 
The critic concludes that Elias evidently knew nothing 
about " the heads of the nails " and " the points " 
described by the official biographers. But this con- 
clusion depends upon the critic's interpretation of 
Elias' words, " clavorum nigredinem ostendentes ". The 
words taken apart from the context might mean any- 
thing. We must read them in relation to the context. 
Now it will be noticed that Elias speaks of the wounds 
in the hands and feet as quasi puncturas clavorum — 
wounds made as it were by nails. Does he mean that 
they were not actual wounds ? Certainly not : the con- 
text forbids such an interpretation. What Elias in- 
tends to convey is that the wounds were not wounds 
actually made by nails : they were a new miracle and 


sign : hence the words quasi pimcturas. With the 
same caution of speech he uses the phrase, davorwn 
nigredinem. \ To sees in the hands and feet " the 
blackness of nails," or as I think one must rightly 
render the phrase, " the black appearance of nails " : 
a rendering adopted by Mr. Reginald Balfour in the 
Seraphic Keepsake (p. 38). Elias does not speak of 
" black nails," any more than he speaks of " wounds 
made by nails ". But just as the wounds are " wounds 
as it were made by nails," so the nails are " a black 
appearance, as it were nails ". This being so — and 
the reading seems to me reasonable — there is no 
contradiction between the statement of Elias and the 
statements of the official biographers : but rather a 
close agreement. After all, Celano wrote his Legenda 
Prima only two years or thereabouts after the saint's 
death, and there were many witnesses at hand who 
had seen the stigmata whilst the saint lay dead at the 
Porziuncola. Only prejudice, at this time of day, 
will attribute to Thomas of Celano a wilful distortion 
of facts or carelessness in investigation. And cer- 
tainly the first biographer of the saint is a more cred- 
ible witness to the facts of the case than is the critic 
who, seven hundred years after the saint's death, can 
think of no more plausible theory than that St. Francis, 
to ease the itching of his body, scratched the wounds 
in hands, feet and side ! 


IG January, 1913. 


This book is an attempt to represent Saint Francis of 
Assisi as I have come to know him after many years' 
study of the early records bearing upon his history. 
Hitherto no adequate biograjohy of the saint has been 
written in the English tongue, though Canon Knox 
Little has given us a study of his character, which is 
of real merit. Nor does any modern biography, 
to my thinking, set forth the real St. Francis as 
he is revealed in the historical records which have 
come down to us. Paul Sabatier's well-known 
Vie de S. Frangois d' Assise is a delightful piece of 
literature ; but had the author possessed the fuller 
knowledge supplied by historical research since 1894 
— a research in which he himself has taken a lead- 
ing part — I think that his book would have been 
a more authentic history. J. Jorgensen's recent 
work, known to me only in its French translation, 
has undoubtedly caught more of the spiritual thought 
and mental atmosphere of St. Francis ; and he had 
the advantage which M. Sabatier did not possess, of 
the research work just referred to. Nevertheless it 



seems to me the final biography of the saiut is yet to 
be desired. I cannot presume to have attained this 
desired goal ; but perhaps this present book may do 
something towards its attainment : in the hope that it 
will do so, the book is published. 

I must confess my obligations to the many students 
of St. Francis' history who have gone before me. It 
will not be invidious if I single out for special men- 
tion the Fianciscan editors of Quaracchi, P. Edouard 
d'Alen^on and M. Paul Sabatier, to whose patient 
labours all Franciscan research students gladly pay 
their tribute of grateful acknowledgment. But to 
all of whose labours I have availed myself, and whose 
names will be found in this book, I now render my 
thanks. Finally I must tender my respectful acknow- 
ledgment to the most Rev. Fr. Pacificus of Sejano, 
Minister-General of the Order of Friars Minor Cap- 
uchin, for his gracious approbation of this " Life " of 
the Seraphic Francis. 


Si. Anselm's IIohse, 




I. The Coming op Francis 

II. Francis Dreams of Glory and Famh 

III. How Francis found the Lady Poverty . 

IV. Francis Eeceives his Knighthood of the Cboss 
7. The Beginning of a New Fraternity 

VI. First Missionary Journeys 

VII. Pope Innocent approves the Kule of the Order 



BOOK ir, 

I. Rivo-ToETO 109 

II. The Porziuncola 123 

III. The Porziuncola (continued) 141 

IV. Saint Clare 155 

V. First Attempts to reach the Infidels ..... 178 

\ I. Francis Attends the Fourth Lateran Council . , . 199 

Vn. The Porziuncola Indulgence ....... 223 



BOOK Jir. 


I. A New Phase opens in the Life op the Fraternity , . 236 

II. The Chapter of Mats 259 

III. Francis goes to the East 273 

IV. The Revolt of the Vicars 287 

V. Brother Edias assumes the Government 305 

VI. The Third Order 322 

VII. The Friars establish a School 346 

VIII. The Teial of Francis 3G9 


I. Grkccio .... 383 

II. The Stigmata 399 

III. Towards Evening 416 

IV. The Last Journey ......... 435 

V. Testament and Death 449 


I. The Primitive Rule op St. Francis 465 

Analysis op Reqdla Prima . . i 467 

II. The Indulgence op the Poeziunoola 477 

III. The Rule op the Third Order 486 

IV. The Sources of our Kkowledge op St. Francis . . . 492 

Index 529 


St. Francis op Assisi Frontispiece 

From the ISth Century picture at Christ Church, Oxford, ascribed to 


Gateway, Assisi (looking towards Perugia) 22 

Above San Damiano 43 

Between Gubbio and CittI di Castello ...... 72 

Old Assisi 114 

The Chapei, of Poeziuncola 123 

San Damiano 167 

The Countky behind Assisi 235 

PaiMiTivE Franciscan Hermitage (Grotto of Soffiano) .... 299 

Ancient Franciscan Friary (Lo Sperimento, near Camerino) . . 362 

The Friary of Greccio 393 

Monte Alvernia 407 

Le Celle (near Cortona) 435 




As you go to-day along the white road that leads from the 
Porziuncola to the city of Assisi, a great peacefulness seems to 
pervade all the country-side. The ancient city is in repose, 
resting on the slope of a spur of Monte Subasio, like an old 
warrior whose fighting days are over. There is something 
grim in its aspect even in the soft brilliancy of the Umbrian 
sun. Perhaps it is the old mediaeval fortress and the city wall 
that can still be seen high up the hill ; perhaps it is the grey 
bare surface of the mountains behind ; or perhaps it is the 
very position of the city built as it were with its back to the 
hill and its face to all comers whether friends or foes. This 
touch of sternness, however, does but give a zest to the spirit 
of peace which broods over it to-day. Its peacefulness is the 
repose of strength ; its rest, the rest of one who has lived. 

But Assisi still lives, though its life is not that of the 
world of strife and tumult. The raucous voices of the cab- 
drivers who invade the city on the occasion of a festa, and 
the wily bargaining of the sellers of ohjets de piiU, and the 
obtrusive self-advertisement of the new hotels, — these suggest 
indeed the world that lies beyond the hiU-bound valley ; but 
their voices are not the voices which fill the swcot aii: of 



Assisi. These speak neitlier of barter and gain, nor of strife 
and tumult, nor of any of the world's vanities, but of that in- 
effable peace which is born of the deeper life and the deeper 
joys, aye, and of the deeper sorrows of the spirit. For Assisi 
even in its spirituality, is very human. The voices in the air 
are the voices of men, not of angels ; of men who have 
passed through the many complexities of human experience 
before they found peace. And so the peacefulness which 
broods over the city and this vast plain before it, warms the 
heart even whilst it stills the heart's tumult and entices one's 
thoughts to the peace eternal. 

But there was little suggestion of peace in the atmosphere 
of Assisi in the year 1199. The city was then in the throes 
of a political upheaval, the outcome of which no one then 
foresaw ; certainly not Francis the light-hearted son of the 
merchant Pietro Bernardone, whose life story was to be 
shaped in no small measure by these present happenings. 

Like most of the industrial cities of Italy, Assisi had long 
been rebellious at heart against the domination of the German 
emperors. The enthusiasm for civic liberty, which had 
baulked the ambition of Barbarossa but had been obliged to 
bow the head to the energy of his successor, Henry VI, took 
new life when death itself put a stop to Henry's victorious 
progress in 1197 and a few months later in January, 1198, 
Innocent III ascended the Papal throne. At once Innocent 
set himself to checkmate the imperial policy inasmuch as jt 
affected the relations of the Empire with the Church and the 
Italian cities. The deliberate aim of that policy under Bar- 
barossa and his successor had been the subjection of Italy to 
the Imperial crown and the subordination of the Church to 
the Imperial prerogative.^ Innocent's policy was to meet 
1 Cf. Huillard Br^holles, Vie de Pierre de la Viqne, Partie III", X. 


this menace by increasing the temporal power of the Papacy 
and welding all the Christian States into a confederacy under 
Papal suzerainty. Hardly was he seated in St. Peter's chair, 
than he set his hand to eject the German conquerors from 
the provinces upon which the Holy See had formerly some 
claim to overlordship ; and in pursuance of this policy he 
called upon Conrad of Lutzen to deliver up the Rocca of 
Assisi and surrender all his holdings to the Pope. Conrad, 
an adventurous Suabian, had been created Duke of Spoleto 
and Count of Assisi some twenty years previously by Bar- 
barossa ; of late years he had resided mostly at the Eocca 
of Assisi. He was a genial, easy-going tyrant, though a 
brave soldier. The people dubbed him " The Whimsical " 
it has been said of him that he had one quality rare in a 
German overlord, — he had regard for public opinion, and as 
far as his fealty to the emperor allowed, let them rule them- 
selves.^ But the foreign yoke galled the cities athirst for 
independence and the glory of being their own masters. 
Conrad, knowing himself powerless against Innocent, met the 
Papal legates at Narni in the spring of the year and signed 
the surrender. No sooner did the Assisians hear the news 
than they gathered together and in a glorious frenzy razed 
the Eocca to the ground. Never again, they were deter- 
mined, should the hated fortress hold their city in subjection. 
Thereupon the Papal legates protested that the Eocca had 
become the property of the Holy See and threatened the city 
with an interdict.^ The Assisians, however, took no heed of 
the protest, and with the stones of the Eocca set themselves 
to build a strong wall round the city. They were determined 
to secure their independence. 

1 Ant. Cristofaui, Storie di Assisi [ed. 1902], p. 49. 
^Innocent III, Eegestorum, Lib. I, LXXXVIII ; " Mirari Cogimur". 



But with the withdrawal of the G-erman overlordship, the 
Assisians were not to find peace, whatever else they might 
gain. They very soon discovered that they must eithei' 
strengthen their own communal sovereignty or fall into a 
state of vassalage to their more powerful neighbour, Perugia — 
the city which stands so proudly upon a hill at the northern 
entrance to the Umbrian valleys, as though it were destined by 
nature to guard the land of Umbria against all unfriendly 
comers from the north and to keep vigilant watch over the 
valleys themselves. And Perugia was fully conscious of the 
dignity and power her position gave her amongst her Umbrian 
neighbours, nor was she without ambition to extend her sover- 
eignty and maybe to reduce the valleys to practical vassalage. 
Already she had forced Arezzo to cede to her territories in the 
neighbourhood of Lake Thrasymene and had incorporated the 
district of Umbertide which commands the highways leading 
to Gubbio and Citta di Castello in the most eastern Umbrian 
valley ; and with these cities she had formed an aUiance 
which made them little more than her retainers. She was 
quick to take advantage of the intestine quarrels of her 
neighbours, and by adopting the cause of one party, to bring 
all parties under her power. So when in the month of 
January, 1200, certain nobles in the territory of Assisi sought 
her protection against the Commune, Perugia eagerly made 
herself their advocate. That meant trouble for the Assisians, 
as they well knew ; but being a stout-hearted people and them- 
selves ambitious, they had no thought of submitting to 
Perugia's dictation. The original cause of the quarrel lay in 
the determination of the Commune of Assisi to strengthen 
the defences of the city and to force the feudal owners of lands, 
in their territories beyond the city walls, to submit to the 
common law of the Commune. But some of these nobles 


refused to acknowledge the Commune's authority, and at 
this the citizens attacked their castles and razed them to the 
gTound and by force took the lands and buildings which they 
required for the city's defence. Nor would they restore to 
the dissident nobles their property nor acknowledge their 
privileges when Perugia took up their cause. The feud 
dragged on for two years and culminated in a battle near 
the Ponte San Giovanni, which lies about midway between 
the two cities.^ The Assisians were worsted in the fight, and 
amongst the prisoners taken that day by the Perugians, was 
the son of Pietro Bernardone, one of the most wealthy 
merchants of Assisi. 

Thus Francis appears for the first time in the world's 
history, a figure in one of those petty wars which mark the 
struggle of mediaeval Italy for civic independence. He was 
at this time about twenty years of age,^ and full of the zest of 
life. In appearance he was somewhat below middle height, 

^ Cristofani, op. cit. p. 57 ; W. Heywood, A History of Ferugia, p. 63 
seq. ; Bonazzi, Storia di Perugia, i. p. 257. 

■•"None of the legends give the date of Francis' birth; but it is evident 
from Thomas of Celano, that he was born in 1181 or 1182. Speaking of the 
death of Francis on 4 October, 1226, Celano adds ; " Twenty years being com 
pleted since he most perfectly adhered to Christ" (I Celano, 88) and further 
on he again says that Francis died " in the tioentieth year of his conversion " 
(I Celano, 119). Francis' conversion, therefore, took place in 1206 (cf. also. 
Leg. 3 Soc. 68 ; Sjiec. Perfectionis, cap. 124). But Celano further tells us 
that he was then " nearly twenty-five years of age " (I Celauo, 2). Albert of 
Stadt gives the date of Francis' birth as 1182 (Man. Oerm. Script. Tom. XVI, 
p. 350), but his accuracy is not unimpeachable. 

For chronology of Francis' life, cf. de Gubecnatis, Orhis Scraphicus, 
Tom. I, p. 15 seq. ; Panfllo da Magliano, Storia compendiosa, Tom. I, p. 5 
scq. ; P. Leo Patrem in Miscellanea Francescana, Tom. IX, faso. 3 ; Boehmer 
Aualekten, p. 123 seq. ; Golubovich, Biblioteca Bio-Biographica, p. 85 seq. ; 
F. Paschal Robinson in Archiviim Franc. Hist. an. I, fasc. I, pp. 23-30 ; Mont- 
gomery Carmichael in Franciscan Annals, October, 190G. 


slender of limb and of dark complexion. A general delicacy of 
feature — the straight well-shapen nose, the smooth brow, the 
hands rather tenuous with tapering fingers — betokened an 
idealist temperament ; the rather thin hps were sensitive, but 
with indications of obstinacy, and in the dark eyes was a fear- 
less candour and the possibilities of a boundless hot enthusiasm. 
The low forehead bespoke a mind intuitive rather than logical 
He carried himself straightly and moved with a quick move- 
ment. His voice was clear and musical and strong.^ He 
dressed sumptuously as one delighting in colour and a certain 
Imrliaric splendour. Among the gay city youth he had won 
a certain proud leadership. His vivacious and ready wit and 
tireless energy and exceeding good nature, made him a boon 
companion and general favourite ; a certain bizarre fancy and 
originality ^ and a great daring, gained him a willing following 
of youths given to fantastic and unconventional frolic. At 
times one might detect behind the accustomed gaiety a latent 
seriousness of soul and a tendency to a gentle melancholy, 
and herein the philosopher might recognize something of the 
secret of his ascendency over this undisciplined youth. His 
popularity, however, was partly due to the lavishness with 
which he spent his money. His father, the wealthy merchant, 
gave him an unstinted allowance, and Francis never let money 
rest in his purse. It went as freely as it came. Friends and 
acquaintances of the family, astonished at his prodigality, 
would protest: "he might be a prince instead of the son of 
Pietro Bernardone ".'■' But Pietro was of that mind that he 

' I Celano, 8.3 ; cf. ibid. 73. 

-Cf. Leg. 3 Soo. 2 : " In curiositalc ctiam tantum erat vanus quod aliquaiulo 
in eodem induviento panmim valde carum jjanno vilissimo consui faciebat". 
The civic feasts alluded to by the biographers hare a similarity to those of the 
Feste du Fid. a fellowship of merchants well known in Prance and even ic 
England towards the close of the thirteenth oenturj'. Cf. George Unmn, Tlie 
Oildx and Companus of London (Antiquary's Books), pp 'JS-U9 

^3Soc. 2: I Celano, 2. 


did not resent his son's lavishness, but rather rejoiced. He 
was himself ambitious, and perhaps saw in Francis' popularity 
with the city youth a foreshadowing of the day when this 
son of his would be high in the civic council, perhaps even 
consul or podesta : a laudable ambition at a time when the 
magistrate of a semi-independent city treated with princes 
and Papal legates in some sort of equality. But if this 
were Pietro's ambition, Francis himself looked beyond civic 
honours. Quite what he aspired to, he himself could not tell 
at this time. He dreamed of fame and honours, but without 
any definite idea how fame was to come to him. He lived 
as yet in a world of legendary romance and had visions of 
being a great leader of men and dazzling the world by his 
^eats and compelling its homage and admiration.^ The de 
ference paid him now by the city youth was but a foretaste 
of that which was to come in the larger world where kings 
held court and heroes won fame. The city revels were to 
lead to revels of tourney and courts of love, where knight 
challenged knight, and poets sang : and whether in tourney 
or in court of love, Francis would meet all rivals. This ideal- 
ism stood ever between Francis and his fellow-revellers. To 
them the evening frolic was but the excitement of the hour, and 
they tasted its coarseness and were besmirched by its sen- 
suousness : to Francis it was a crude anticipation of the 
battle of life as he had learned it in the romances of chivalry. 
Perhaps it was this which kept him morally clean and whole- 
some amidst the dissipations in which he moved so freely. 
Where others came quickly to moral shipwreck, his tempera- 
ment allowed him to assimilate only the subtler and more 
refined sensuousness of the scenes and not the coarser ele- 
ments. He loved the song and parade, the adulation of the 
crowd, the movement and zest and the sense of leadership: 
iCf. 3 Soc. 11,5. 


but from grosser evils a natural fastidiousness saved him. 
Coarseness vs'as alien to his nature : he V7as dainty in his food ; 
an obscene word made him silent.^ 

A temperament such as his could not have found a more 
congenial nursing-ground than Assisi in the years immediately 
following the overthrow of the German domination. The 
life of the city was quickened; the proud sense of freedom, 
chafed even by the mild suzerainty of Conrad of Lutzen/ was 
now set loose, and threw a glamour of patriotism even over 
the industrial activities of the city. There was a sense of 
building up the free commune as well as one's own house. 
One thing the German overlord had done for Assisi. He had 
given the citizens a period of comparative peace, during which 
the city had prospered materially, and the merchants had de- 
veloped trade and gained wealth. The staple trade of Assisi, 
as of the other cities of central Italy, was in woollen stuffs, 
and the merchant in search of a market travelled wide and 
far. Thus Pietro Beruardone had a brisk business with 
France. And it was whilst he was on one of these journeys 
to the French market that Francis, his eldest son, was 
born. To commemorate the circumstance the delighted father 
on his return home dubbed the child "Francesco" — "the 
Frenchman"; by which pet-name and not by his baptismal 

1 In the early legends one finds apparently conflicting statements. Celano 
(I Colano, 1-3) depicts the youth o{ Francis as sullied by the vices o£ the time. 
S. Bonaventure {Leg. Maj. I), on the other hand, says : " Albeit in his youth 
Francis was reared in vanity . . . yet he went not astray among vfanton 
youths after the lusts of the flesh". The contradiction is explained by the 
temperament of Francis. The Leg. 3 Soc. 3, suggests the solution : " Erat 
taincn quasi naturaliter curialis," etc. 

- Conrad had even permitted the Assisians to join the league of the cities 
of Umbria and the Marches, for the defence of civic r-ights. Of. Oristofani, 
op. cit. p. 49. 


name, Giovanni, the child was henceforth called. On their 
journeys, the merchants not only did business ; they gathered 
up and distributed the news of the world. They carried 
political and religious thought from one place to another 
along the route of their travel, and the news they brought 
was debated with that intensity of interest which belongs 
only to the more impassioned moments of life ; for at no time 
have men lived more keenly and with a greater zest for ideas 
than did the citizens of those mediaeval cities. In every de- 
partment of life, whether in politics, in intellect, or in religion, 
the towns were big with change and revolution. There was 
a restlessness abroad which none could escape : every town 
and city was more or less a radiating centre of critical dis- 
content and revolutionary ideas ; and nowhere was this spirit 
more active than in Italy, where each city in its semi-inde- 
pendence was a sort of microcosm typical of the Christian 
universe. When the men of Assisi stormed the Rocca and 
razed it to the ground and built a wall around their city and 
sought to subject the nobles to the civic authority, they were 
conscious that they were taking part in a world-wide revolu- 
tion — the uprising of the city against the castle. In their 
streets and council chambers were discussed all the great 
questions agitating the peninsula and the Christian countries, 
whether secular or religious, Great as the power of the 
Church was, Italy at this time was seething with movements 
of Church reform, heretical and otherwise. There were the 
Cathari and Paterini,' who had swept like great sea waves 
over northern and central Italy, and set up conventicles in 

'Of. Gebhardt, L'ltalie Mystique, p. 26 seq. ; Felice Toooo, L' Eresia nel 
Medio Bvo, p. 73 seq. The Paterini were in tlie first instance a movement 
supported by the Holy See; but Arnold of Brescia revived the movement In 
opposition to the Church. 


all the more populous centres, defying the ecclesiastical 
powers. They preached a return to apostolic simpHcity in 
religion, denounced the Church for its wealth and secular 
ambitions, scoffed at the clergy and rejected the sacramental 
.system. They were the Puritans of the Middle Ages. Then 
side by side with the heretical movements there was a wide- 
spread feeling amongst the Cathohcs themselves, that all was 
not right in the Church. The orthodox discontent found ex- 
pression in Lombardy and the North in the movement of 
the Humiliati, a society of lay-people who bound themselves 
to live by their labour, to eschew luxury in food and dress, 
to avoid taking part in war or feud and to serve the poor.' 
But the Humiliati, whilst they aroused the conscience, failed 
to touch the imagination. 

Otherwise was it with the reform propaganda of the 
Cistercian Abbot Joachim in the South. ^ Joachim too 
preached poverty and humility, but unlike the other re- 
formers he sought for renovation not by legal enactments 
and codes of conduct but by spiritual enlightenment. He was 
an Isaias bidding the people prepare for a renewed Kingdom 
of God by a clean conscience and prayer and the study of the 
Divine AVord. When the spirit of the prophet first came 
upon him he had retired to a cave in Sicily and there had 
prepared himself for his mission by weeping over the sins 
of the people and imploring God's mercy. Then he had 
entered amongst the Cistercians at Sambucina as a lay-brother, 
had afterwards been ordained priest and elected abbot of the 
monastery. After a time he resigned the abbacy and secluded 
himself in the desert of Pietralata, where he wrote his pro- 
phetical books concerning the new reign of the Spirit. 

' Cf. Tirabos-hi, Vetera Humilialorum Mciuimenta ; Gehhardt, ojj. cit. p. 34. 
'-Cf. Felice Tocco, op. cit. p. 261 seq. ; Gebhardt, op. cit. p. 49 scq. 


Leaving the desert, he went about visiting the monasteries 
and preaching reform. Disciples flocked to him, and in 1189 
he founded a nevp monastic community at Flore n Calabria, 
which drew to it the eyes of multitudes of people, both of the 
clergy and the laity, who soon came to regard it as the holy 
Sion whence would issue the long-sought renovation of the 
Christian world. Gentle and pitiful, Joachim preached a 
gospel of love towards God and man : to many he seemed a 
very image of the Christ. His prophecies sent a thrill through 
all Catholic Italy, like the stirring of a new day. Men lifted 
up their heads in hope and yet in fear ; for the reign of the 
Divine Spirit about to come, was to be preceded by a sharp 
period of terror when the anti-Christ would appear on 
earth. ^ 

The effect of Joachim's teaching was deep and lasting : 
for years after his death the people saw in political and re- 
ligious events the fulfilment of his prophecies.^ One of its 
immediate effects was the appearance of wandering devotees 
who went about calling the people to repentance, and utter- 
ing cryptic prophecies of the coming time. Such a one was 
found in Assisi about this very time : he went through the 
streets, crying out : Pax et Bonum ! Peace and Well-doing ! ^ 
In after times he was regarded as a precursor of that gospel 
of peace which Francis was to preach so successfully. The 
Franciscan movement was indeed cradled in the expectancy 
aroused by the Joachimite prophecies. Another indication 

' This period of the anti-Christ was to begin, according to Joachim, in 1199. 
Cf. Felice Tooco, op. cit. p. 290, n. 1. 

^Thus Frederick II was regarded by many Cathilics as the anti-Christ; 
whilst on the other hand his partisans gave him almost divine honours, and 
likened him to Jesus Christ. Gf. HuiUard Breholies, Hist, diplomat, iv. p. 
378 ; Tie de P. de la Vigne, Pieces Justificatives, No. 107 el passim. 

»3 Soo. 26. 


how Assisi was affected by the general rehgious restlessness 
was the election of the heretic, Giraldo di Gilberto, in 1203, 
to the chief magistracy, and his remaining in office in spite 
of the protests of the Holy See.^ 

That Francis was conversant with all these movements 
as they were reflected in the life of his native city, there can 
be no doubt. In the narrow circle of a mediaeval commune, 
the son of a wealthy merchant, and partner in his father's 
trade, could not be ignorant of the quick forces of public 
opinion which carried men onwards so irresistibly. Neither 
can it be doubted that he took his part right willingly in the 
struggle for civic independence. But the sentiment which 
drew him out to fight against Perugia was hardly a reflective 
one but rather a blind instinct of loyalty and a natural love 
of adventure. He was as yet of that youthful cast of thought 
which values things in proportion to their nearness to one's 
personal concerns. To him the deep politics of the city 
counsellors would seem trivial compared with the youthful 
revels in which he found some semblance of his dream of life. 
As to the disputes between Catholics and Paterini and such 
hke, they would seem to him whom they did not concern, 
mere waste of words and temper : if he gave serious thought 
to the matter at all, he would probably condemn all heretics 
as meddlers in the affairs of other men or as scarecrows at 
the feast. He was, in a word, too much wrapt up in his own 
dreams to be an ardent politician or religious disputant. In 
fact, he never quite descended from his world of dream even 
in after life, and was apt to be impatient of meddlers and 
heretics to the end. As to the coming of anti-Christ and the 
promised new revelation of the Spirit, these things might 
have impressed him had they not been so strange to his 

'Griato'ani, op. cit. p. 63. 


outlook on life. He loved the world as it was : things might 
not be all as they should be, but there was great joy to be 
found there, and he kept close to the joy and shrank in- 
stinctively from the sight of the sorrow as from some un- 
explamed mystery which would be troublesome it peered 

But amidst all the confusion of voices which filled the 
public places, there was one voice to which the young Francis 
listened with a joyous content, the voice of the troubadour. 
Twenty years before the birth of Francis the singing poets 
of Provence had begun to invade Italy, drawn thither by the 
stir of life and freedom. They came singing aloud the joys 
and sorrows of youth and the glory of chivalry. Gaily or 
pathetically they lifted their voices in praise of love or adven- 
ture, passing their fingers deftly and thrillingly over the 
varied strings of human emotion. Their songs, too, had the 
consistency of a faith however lightly they might be sung. 
Passionately they recited the glory of courage and endurance ; 
but always their heroes spent themselves for some high 
cause, either for the defence of the Christian faith or for the 
succouring of the weak or the oppressed. Or else they sang 
of love, of love sublimated by sacrifice and worship ; ^ for 
whether they sang of battle or adventure or of love, a per- 
sistent note in their harmonies was that of personal devotion 
and unselfish endurance for the sake of the good cause or the 
beloved. Their heroes were chosen from folk-lore and legend. 
Arthur and his Round Table, Charlemagne and his puissant 
paladins, supplied them with inspiring themes. So with his 

' Gf. Testamentum S. F. : " Niniis mihi videbatur amarum videre lejrrosos ". 

^Cf. M. Fauriel, Dante et Us Origines de la Langue et de la Lilterature 
Italiennes, p. 279 seq. ; cf. Earl Bartsch, Chrestomatltie Provengale ; Ern. 
Monaoi, Testi antichi provemiali. 


romance of chivalry and his songs of love the minstrel from 
Provence visited the courts of the Italian nobles/ whence he 
sent forth a haunting voice which set the heart of youth 
astir and was as a fresh breeze amidst the pessimism which 
had so long depressed the vitality of the peninsula. 

Now it may seem a strange thing that this merchant's 
son, whom in after years men would come to regard as a 
patron saint of democracy, should have had his mind and 
character formed by the romance of chivalry and the love- 
song of the troubadour. Yet so it was in fact. He drew the 
form into which his ambition was cast, out of the tales of 
knight-errantry and knightly adventure, and the love-song 
fostered his native instinct for the perfect lover. By tem- 
perament he had but little taste for book-knowledge ; he 
loved better the life of action and the free air : but he learned 
eagerly the tales of the Bound Table and of Eoland and 
Oliver the great paladins.- He had no doubt that these 
heroes were such as the minstrels pictured them ; he believed 
that their peers might be found again and he amongst them. 
In truth, were not valiant knights fighting for the faith and 
the right and performing prodigies of valour in the Eastern 
lands, and even in the Southern provinces of Italy, where the 
Germans were warring against the Church? So he dreamed 

' The most famous Provencal singers such as Bernard de Ventadour, 
Cadenet, Raimbautde Vaguerras, Pierre Vidal, were frequently in Italy about 
the end of the twelfth century. Pauriel, op. cit. p. 257. 

" Vide Spec. Perfect, cap. 4 and 72 ; also F. Paschal Robinson, The 
Golden Sayings of Brother Giles, p. 61. The Latin legends of Arthur and his 
knights were already published in Italy about the end of the twelfth century ; 
as well as the Provencal versions of the romances of Arthur and Charlemagne. 
Cf. Fauriel, op. cit. I, p. 286. The influence of the troubadour's love-song is 
very marked in early Franciscan literature, notably in the religious songs of 
Jacopone daTodi ; but Francis seems to have drawn his inspiration more from 
the chivalric romances. 


his dream, whilst men waged heated controversy over Church 
reform and the prophets foretold world-disaster and the 
coming of the new life. 

To the end of his days this dream of romantic chivalry will 
remain with Francis and be the chief secnlar influence in the 
shaping of his story. He will outgrow his early crude ambi- 
tions of secular achievement and change his ultimate purpose 
and take to himself other weapons of combat and extend his 
vision of life : but to the last he will always think of himself 
as a knight-errant, and the governing law of his life will be 
the knightly code of fearless courage, worshipful love and 
gentle courtesy. To the end, too, he will be a singer of song 
and carry with him the poet's sensitive feeling for the sun- 
shine and shadows of life. Always he will feel a knightly 
scorn for compromise and the by-ways of diplomacy ; he 
will be quick to obey the call of the quest and will deem dis- 
loyalty the blackest of sins. 

Some will have it that his romantic temperament was due 
to his mother's blood ; for they say the Lady Pica, the wife of 
Pietro Bernardone, was of gentle birth and Provencal origin : 
but of this there is no certain proof. ^ Yet there can be little 

" The early legends tell us nothing concerning the origin of Francis' 
mother. The supposition of her Provencal origin may have arisen from the 
fact that Francis spoke the French tongue (cf. I Celano, 16 ; II Celano, 
13, 127 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 93) but he may have learned this as part of the 
education of a merchant's son, who V70uld have need to carry on trade with 
France. As to the tradition that Pica was of noble birth, a contemporary 
legal document published by Cristofani, op. cit. pp. 50-51, styles her Doinina 
Pica; from which M. Sabatier (Vie de S. F. p. 8, n. 2) deduces that she 
must have been of noble origin. But in Southern Europe the more wealthy 
merchants at this time claimed equality of rank with the nobles. Gf. Fauriel, 
Preuves de I'histoire du Languedoc, in. p. 607. Nothing is really known 
concerning the family-origins of Francis. According to a document discovered 
by Bishop Spader in the eighteenth century, the Bernardoni migrated to 


doubt of her saving influence in the formative period of 
Francis' character. Between mother and son there was that 
close understanding sympathy which is more often felt as an 
atmosphere rather than as defined action ; whose influence 
therefore is the more subtle and penetrating, whether for 
restraint or for direction. It was Pica who, when her neigh- 
bours were commenting upon Francis' princely manners and 
ambitions, remarked to their amazement: " I will tell you 
how this son of mine will turn out ; he will become a son of 
God "} In her fond watchfulness she had seen how he would 
never refuse an alms to a beggar and how whenever the 
name of God was uttered in his presence he grew reverent 
and worshipful.^ And out of the experience of her own soul, 
perhaps, she read the significance of these signs. So whilst 
his father was hugging his own forecast of his son's future 
position in the Commune and begrudging no money that 
would help him to secure the highest place ; and whilst 
friends and neighbours were divided in opinion, some regard- 
ing him as a spendthrift and wastrel and others as a young 
man with a well-formed ambition and assured success, the 
Lady Pica held in her heart some dim vision in which knightly 
adventure was interwoven with saintship and the spirit of 
the troubadour sang its songs in heaven. And who shall say 
how far the mother's dream determined the life-story of her 
son ? 

Assisi from Lucca. Cf. P. Marcellino da Civezza, San Francesco oriundo dai 
Moricctni di Lucca. 

'IlCelano, 3. Further on we shall find Pica encouraijing Praucia in 
hie religious adventure. 

■-Leg. Maj.i. Cf. Log. 3 Soc. 9. 



A.FTEE the battle of Ponte San GiovanDi, Francis, as we have 
said, was lodged in prison.' 

Now to the traveller there is no city in Umbria of such a 
queenly majesty as Perugia. Built upon a hill-top at the 
northern entrance to all the Umbrian valleys, it has a proud 
beauty of outline which holds the eye, and compels a sort 
of rapturous worship until you enter within the city, and 
then there is a certain grimness in its massive public build- 
ings, instinct with beauty though they are, which indicates 
still that almost brutal ambition for power which made 
Perugia, in the heyday of its glory, feared and hated by its 
neighbours. The Palazzo dei Priori, the symbol of that 
strange commingling of brutal strength with exquisite artistic 
feeling, was not yet built in Francis' time, but the spirit 
which demanded it of the builders was there. Perugia had 
humbled Assisi, yet not so decisively as to bring the weaker 
city to an unconditional surrender, and she was wary enough 
not to waste her strength ineffectively. Negotiations followed 
but dragged somewhat slowly, and meanwhile the prisoners 
were kept in unpitying confinement for the greater part of 
a year. 

'Being the son of a wealthy citizen he was not put with the common 
soldiery but with the nobles. — 3 Soc. 4. 

17 2 


Prancis, it would seem, took his imprisonment light- 
heartedly enough. He sang and made merry though his 
fellow-captives grew depressed and irritable. They were 
chafing at the narrow confinement ; he was dreaming his 
dream of chivalry. To him this affray of the Ponte San 
Giovanni with its untoward consequence, was the beginning 
of real life: for battle and captivity were equally incidents 
in the knightly adventure upon which he had set his heart. 
Those around him, not seeing the hght which made his 
day, thought him deficient in sanity. " Surely," said one 
of them, "you are mad that you can be merry in prison." 
" Would you know why I am merry ? " retorted Francis. " I 
see the day when all the world will bow in homage before 
me." ^ His good-nature, too, was irrepressible. There was 
amongst them a knight of so sour and bitter a temper, that 
his fellow-prisoners entirely avoided his company, all except 
Francis, who attached himself to the outcast and by kindness 
won him to more genial ways and finally healed the breach 
between him and his fellows.- After about a year the 
prisoners were set free.^ But the long confinement and 
enforced inaction had told upon the health of Francis, 
and after his return home an attack of fever was nearly 
the end of his earth-story ; though as it happened it proved 

' 3 Sooii, i ; II Celano, 4. ''ibid. 

3 Leo Patrem {Misc. Franc. Vol. IX, faso. 3, p. 84) disputes the date 
1203 given by Ant. Cristofani for the signing ol peace between Perugia and 
Assisi, and argues for 1202. But according to BoUetUno della Eegia Depu- 
tazione di Storia Patria per VTJmbra, Vol. VIII, pp. 140-142, peace was 
signed on August 31, 1205. If this date be correct then Francis must have 
been set free several years before the definite conclusion of peace, at least if 
the evidence of 3 Soc. is accepted. It was announced in 1910 that the 
original document of the peace-treaty was discovered in the municipal library 
of Perugia; but my repeated efforts to obtain a copy of it have been fruitless. 


instead to be its real beginning. For it was then as he 
lay during long weeks upon his sick bed, that there came 
to Francis the first troublous intimations of a life other than 
that of which he had hitherto dreamed, a life dedicated to 
God and the quest of eternal things.^ They were but as the 
sound of the far-off sea-waves to one who has never yet seen 
the ocean ; he could not tell with any distinctness their 
demand, but they brought a trouble to his thoughts and 
heart, which was to remain there till the demand was fully 
known and accepted. That was not to be yet. With con- 
valescence the old dream of adventure and fame came back 
and the old eager joy in the dreamland which his fancy 
made of the earth. The first disillusionment came when he 
took his first walk abroad. He went out by one of the city 
gates, his heart hungering for a sight of the fair earth. 
There he stood leaning upon a stick and gazing wistfully 
upon the wide valley where on a sunny day the scintillating 
haze envelops the hills and the plain in a mystic glory, and 
the golden towns, dotted along the hillsides, look farther off 
than they really are, and the white course of the river winds 
across the lowland. And for the first time the living earth 
failed him. To his call there came no response : as well 
might he have been within the walls of his sick-room. 
" The beauty of the fields, the delight of the vineyards and 
all that is fair to the eye, could in no way gladden him," 
says Thomas of Celano ; " wherefore he was amazed at the 
change which had so suddenly come upon him and thought 
them most foolish who could love these things."^ 

But movement and fresh air in time brought back his 
strength and he became restless for action. The events of 
the affray with Perugia and the test of sickness had deepened 

1 1 Celano, 3 ; Leg. Maj. i. 2. "I Celano, 3. 

2 * 


his character. He was no longer content with the hfe of 
youth ; he must enter into the hfe of men. 

And the opportunity at length came.^ Since 1198 all Italy 
had been watching the struggle which was being waged be- 
tween the Pope and the Germans for the regency of the Two 
Sicihes. At first the war had gone against the Papal forces ; 
but the tide had turned with the advent in 1202 of Walter 
de Brienne, Prince of Taranto, to whom Innocent III had 
entrusted his cause. It was, however, a desperate conflict, 
waged by brave and fearless leaders on both sides. To Pro- 
vencal singers Walter de Brienne was more than a valiant 
soldier ; he was a hero fighting for the Church and Italian 
liberty against the hated German.^ Stirred by the trouba- 
dours' song, soldiers from all parts of Italy flocked to the 
Norman's banner, partly for the glory of the adventure, 
partly for the material gain which was sure to accrue to a 
successful army ; and some of them had already gained re- 
nown and the worship of the aspirants for knightly honours. 

Francis' thoughts must often have turned to the southern 
battlefields, as he dreamed of the realization of his romance 
of chivalry. The setting out of a certain unnamed noble of 
Assisi to join the Papal army in Apulia now quickened his 

He too would go to the war and, God willing, gain his 
knighthood in the following of a Count Gentile : a captain, 

^ Post paucos vero annos — "after a few years," says the Legend of the 
Three Companions, in introducing the story of the journey to Apulia, after 
relating the incident of Francis' imprisonment. It was probably in 1205 that 
the events which follow took place. 

-Tlie Southern Italians, however, resented being ruled by a foreigner, for 
Walter de Brienne was appointed not only commander of the forces, but 
Justiciar of Apulia. Cf. A. Luchaire, Innocent III, Hume et VllalU, p. 190 


doubtless, of some fame, though his exploits are not men- 
tioned by Francis' biographers.^ Now having determined 
upon his course, Francis set about equipping himself in a 
fashion befitting the magnificence of his ambition ; so that 
his array outshone in splendour that of his noble companion 
in arms though he too was a man of wealth and fashion.'"' 

The day of departure was at hand and Francis was 
already delighting in the glory of his newly bought equip- 
ment, when he happened to fall in with a knight whose 
shabby dress betokened a straitened poverty. And this to 
Francis seemed a great shame, that one who belonged to so 
high a profession should be clothed so meanly. Straightway 
he made over his own gorgeous mantle and tunic and all his 
costly apparel to the poor knight.^ 

Full of the glory of his coming adventures Francis that 
evening retired to rest, and as he slept he dreamed a sweet 
dream. Some one called him by his name and taking him, 
led him to a fair palace, set about with knightly arms, the resi- 
dence of a beautiful bride ; and as he was gazing in admira- 
tion and wondering to whom this palace belonged, his guide 
told him that it was for him and his followers.^ Francis 
awoke, convinced that the dream was an indication of his 

■The Leg. 3 Soc. says expressly that the Count was Darned Gentile, from 
whom Francis desired to receive knighthood. Lemonnier and Jorgensen sup- 
pose that the name Gentile was merely a name of honour, and that Walter 
de Brienne himself is to be understood. But there were several Counts 
Gentile, whose names are recorded in oontempor-iry documents; one of them, 
Count Gentile of Manapelli, was instrumental in defeating the Germans at 
Palermo in July, 1200. Of. P. Sabatier, Vie de S. F. p. 19, n. 2. 

21 Gelano, i. ^ II Celano, 5 ; 3 Soc. 6 ; Leg. Maj. i. 2. 

* 3 Soo. 5 ; I Celano, 5 ; II Celano, 6 ; Leg. Maj. i. 3. Celano in his 
Legenda Prima says Francis saw his father's house filled with arms ; but in 
Legenda Secunda he gives the same description as in 3 Sooii. St. Bona- 
venture speaks o£ " a fair palace," but does not allude to the beautiful bride. 


destiny, and such was his manifest happiness that his friends 
were curious to know what new fortune had come to him. 
Francis rephed : "I know of a surety that I shall become a 
great prince ".' So in the joy of his dream he set out on his 
way to Apulia. He came the first evening to the city of 
Spoleto at the southern end of the valley, where the moun- 
tains take a bend towards the west : and there he put up 
for the night. Again the mysterious voice came to him ; 
but now he was but half asleep. And as he listened intently 
he heard : " Francis, whom is it better to serve, the lord or 
the servant?" And he wonderingly replied: "Surely it is 
better to serve the lord". " AVhy then," asked the voice, 
"dost thou make a lord of the servant?" Suddenly the 
light entered his soul and he replied humbly: "Lord, what 
dost Thou wish me to do? " " Return," said the voice, "to 
the land of thy birth and there it will be told thee what thou 
shalt do : for it may behove thee to give another meaning to 
thy dream." 

Thoroughly awake, Francis lay pondering upon what 
had happened to him. He had no doubt now that these 
voices were akin to those troubhng thoughts which had come 
to him in his sickness ; and they were too real to be honestly 
disregarded. Sobered and serious, he arose at daybreak and 
without delay got on his horse and rode back to Assisi. He 
had put his dream of secular glory behind him. As to the 
future he had no plans: he only knew that he must wait 
upon the word which was to come to him and make all 
things clear. That was all he was conscious of just now ■ 
and with a magnificent simplicity of soul, he set himself to 
wait. There was no sadness in his returning : the o-lamour 
of yesterday had given place to a new serenity and a new 

> 3 Soe. 5. 


(Looking towards Perugia) 


joy ; he had not yet found his heart's desire, but he knew it 
would come to him in the mysterious future before which 
he was to wait.^ 

It bears witness to the sanity of Francis' mind that he 
was willing to wait and that he attempted no sudden ill-con- 
sidered break with the life he had hitherto been living. Upon 
his return he took up the threads of the old life where he 
had left them. He went back to his father's business, though 
with no greater enthusiasm than he had hitherto shown ; he 
took his place again amongst the youths of the city, who at 
once elected him captain of the revel, moved thereto, as the 
old chronicler reminds us, by the prodigality with which he 
had always contributed to their feasts.^ But the revel gave 
him no longer the whole-hearted simple pleasure of a former 

He presided at the banquets his own purse provided, at 
which the fine city youths over-ate themselves and drank too 
much ; and when they could eat and drink no more and rose 
up and went forth into the streets singing riotously, Francis 
mast lead the way with the wand of leadership in his hand, 
as the custom was.^ Meanwhile in all the byways of the 
city was the ill-fed, naked crowd whose excitement was to 
witness the procession of the gorgeously- clad, gluttonous 
sons of noble and merchant : and Francis since his return 
from Spoleto was daily becoming conscious of the contrast 
between the life of these poor beggars and that of his own 
people. The sight of a beggar would now set struggling 
emotions which were a mystery to himself. More and more 
as the weeks went by, he felt himself becoming a stranger 

1 3 Soo. 6 ; II Celano, C ; Leg. Maj. i. 3. ^ n Celano, 7. 

3 ibid Celano evidently describes these civic carousals from personal 
knowledge or experience. 


amongst his friends. He would still move amongst them 
exchanging witticisms and pleasantries; he would still lead 
off the song and sit at the feast: but his heart was not m it 
all as it used to be. Oftentimes he sat at the board in an 
abstracted mood, and at the head of the riotous procession 
would walk as one in deep thought until aroused by some 
rude pleasantry from his companions. As time went on these 
abstracted moods became more prolonged and intent ; he 
would even at times be as one unable to move or speak, so 
rapt was he in his own thoughts of the sweet mystery which 
was upon him. The revellers, noting these things, had a 
ready explanation : Francis must be in love. One day when 
lie had fallen behind in one of his silent moods, his com- 
panions turned back and taxed him with his delinquency. 
"Art thou in love, Francis?" they cried; "hast found a 
maiden to be thy wife, that thou must be always thinking 
iif her charms and beauty? " Francis, aroused from his ab- 
straction, replied with unexpected seriousness : " Yea, in truth 
I am thinking of taking a wife more noble and beautiful and 
richer than any ye have ever seen ". At which they laughed 
a coarse incredulous laugh. But Francis was thinking of the 
bnde of his dream who had come to figure in his thoughts 
for the new life into which he was peering, and whom he 
afterwards came to know as the Lady Poverty.^ It was his 
first confession of his love even to himself ; and from that 
moment, with a lover's humihty, he began to wax worthless in 
his own eyes and lo think bitterly of the wasted years, for so 
they seemed now, which had kept him from knowing his 
heart's desire. 

He became thenceforth even more silent and thoughtful 
and more and more sensitive to the spiritual world. Often he 

' 3 Soo. 7 and 13 ; I Celano, 7. 


would withdraw from the society of his fellows and steal out 
of the city to be alone and to pray. He was yet shy of mani- 
festing to others his secret ; but the distaste for the old life 
was becoming too much for him. Yet he was of that nature 
which instinctively seeks companionship and a certain com- 
prehending sympathy, and this need drew him frequently 
into visiting the poor. He no longer waited for them to come 
seeking an alms; he now sought them out, always taking 
with him money or food to relieve their needs, yet taking 
something even more precious, the sympathy of a soul itself 
lonely and in need. For in these months of spiritual travail 
he was living in a great loneliness. There was but one friend 
in the city, a young man about his own age, to whom he 
could bring himself to speak of the things which had come 
into his life : and even to him he could speak only shyly and 
in parables, telling him that he had discovered a treasure 
of great price and was seeking how to obtain possession of 
it. Sometimes he would take his friend with him on his 
walks outside the city and in his enigmatic way unbosom his 
searching thoughts. They gradually came to directing their 
steps to an ancient Etruscan tomb some distance off and in a 
lonely place. There Francis would bid his friend remain out- 
side whilst he himself went in to pray. Those visits to the 
ancient tomb were Francis' most intimate moments with God 
and his own soul. His friend, waiting outside, heard him at 
times crying aloud in his southern fashion for very anguish 
of soul : it was when the soul of Francis was being riven 
by a divine light which revealed him to himself and brought 
him to judgment, face to face with his destiny. At such 
moments he was in an agony of new desire and conscious 
helplessness. To add to his trial, his over-strained nerves 
would at times create imaginative horrors out of his moral 


fears. He saw himself becoming deformed, even as some of 
the poor beggars in the city, at the sight of whom he had 
always shrunk back with horror. He met such suggestions 
with pleading prayer and did not desist till he had found 
strength and comfort. But when he came out again into the 
sunlight his countenance would be haggard and drawn be- 
cause of the pain he had suffered. One clear thought was 
gradually shaping itself amidst the ferment of spirit : he 
must abandon his accustomed comfort and luxury and ambi- 
tion and go forth like Abraham of old amongst a strange people. 
That insistent calling was beating upon his spiritual sense; 
it drew him with mysterious persuasion ; yet did he still hold 
back as one whose bonds are not yet broken, whose vision is 
not clear. ^ Who the friend was who stood by him in these 
difficult days and comforted him with a discreet sympathv, we 
know not. Some have surmised that it was that Elias who 
afterwards became Minister-General of the Franciscan Order 
and the anti-type of Francis in Franciscan legend.^ Were it 
so we could easily understand Francis' attachment to Elias 
in the later days when this friend became to him the cause 
of many anxious hours. It is, however, only a fanciful sur- 
mise. Whoever he was, whether Elias or another, may his 
memory be blessed for the sake of those first difficult days. 

In his perplexity Francis bethought him to undertake a 
pilgrimage to the tombs of the apostles. Year by year pil- 
grims trod the white roads leading to Eome, carrying with 
them their miseries or fears or desires to the heavenly ap- 

1 Cf. 3 Soc. 8 ; I Gelano, 6 ; II Celauo U. 

2 P. Sabaticr, Vie de S. F. p. 22. The supposition, however, is unlikely. 
Had Elias been Francis' first friend Gelano would certainly have mentioned 
the fact in his Legenda Prima in which he constantly e.-ctols the merits of 


pointed shepherds of Christ's flock, whose bodies lay on the 
Vatican Hill. 

Francis therefore joined the pilgrimage, having no douht 
that the apostles would give him comfort and direction. He 
took with him rich offerings for the shrine such as in his in- 
experience he thought all wealthy pilgrims took ; and great 
was his surprise and pain when he noticed, during his stay in 
the city, how meagre were their oilerings. To him it seemed 
not merely a Lick of generosity but a sort of treason thus to 
treat the chief pastors of souls. With a feeling of revulsion 
Francis turned from the niggardly pilgrims to the importu- 
nate beggars who crowded about the doors of the basilica, 
and literally poured into their outstretched hands his ready 
alms. Beggars were having a strange fascination for him 
of late. He was beginning to feel a new sense of freedom 
in their presence. Suddenly one day as he approached St. 
Peter's a quick resolve took possession of him. He would 
himself become a beggar for the day and learn by experience 
what the life must be. It would be more easily done here 
amongst a crowd of strangers : had he been at home he would 
have shrunk from the ridicule of his own class, for he was 
not yet master of himself. Oftentimes in the past months 
he had felt himself a coward and had sought the company of 
the poor by stealth, being still held by the conventions of his 

Here in Eome a lesser boldness was needed. Moreover, 
the pilgrimage and the freshness of thought which comes of 
a widening world — and the journey to Eome was his first 
glimpse of the great world beyond his native province — was 
giving him a grip of his own soul, bringing the issues of his 
nrental struggle into greater clearness. Straightway he took 
a beggar aside and for a consideration obtained the loan of 


his clothes : and all that day he stood outside St. Peter's, clad 
as a beggar, asking alms of those who passed in and out. 
AVith the illusion of a strong imagination he was for the time 
a veritable beggar, waiting upon another's goodwill for bread 
and the courtesy of life, and sharing with his companions at 
the door their satisfactions and rebuffs.^ In the evening he 
became again the son of Pietro Bernardone the rich mer- 
chant ; but for the day he had been of the brotherhood of 
beggars, and as he went to his lodgings that night he felt 
that he had wandered further away from his father's house 
and found a new tie of kinship ; and he felt also that exalta- 
tion of spirit which comes to a man when he has pitted his 
strength against his weakness or diffidence and come forth 
the victor : for his fastidiousness had kicked against the un- 
seemly rags, and the feeling for his own class still had a 
subtle power over him." 

On his return to Assisi he carried with hini this new feel- 
ing of kinship with the poor. He was no longer content to 
go out and bestow an alms in secret : that now would have 
been a disloyalty. In some way he must proclaim his new 
fellowship. Fortunately his father was absent from home, 
probably on one of his long journeys to France ; else might 
Francis' story have moved more quickly than it did at this 
period, or at least with less idyllic grace. But Francis could 
count upon his mother's tolerant sympathies. One day, to her 
surprise, she found the table loaded with bread and meat as for 
a large company. On asking whom the guests might be, 
Francis replied that it was a feast for the hungry. Then 
taking the food from the table he distributed it to the poor at 
the door. It was more neighbourly thus to feed them from 
his own table. 

1 II Celano, 8 ; 3 Soo. 10 ; Leg. Maj. i. 6. - Of. II Celaco, 13. 


But the day of days came to him. out in the plain. He 
had been riding and was returning to the city when a leper 
stood in his way, supplicating an alms. At the sight of his 
loathsome disfigurement the very soul of Erancis sickened, as 
it did in the presence of all ugly disease. At an earlier time 
he would have flung out his alms and passed quickly on. 
But to-day a great wave of pity swept over him, and would 
not let him pass on. He reined in his horse and dismounted, 
and as he courteously placed his alms in the beggar's hand, 
he took the hand and kissed it. Then clasping the leper in 
his arms, he himself received from the leper the kiss of peace. 
Erom that moment Eraucis never again looked back upon 
the old ways : in the leper's embrace he plighted his troth to 
the new life in which poverty and suffering were lords de- 
manding his liege service. He had not yet found the Lady 
Poverty, but he had entered her domain and become a servant 
of her people : and for the present he was at peace. 

In his gratitude he now looked upon the lepers as his 
peculiar charge : he visited their settlements and brought 
them alms ; and always as he gave his alms he kissed their 
hands. ^ 

' 3 Soo. 11 ; II Celano, 9 ; Leg. Maj. i. 5. Cf. Testamenium S. Franc. 
in Seraph. Legist, Textus Originales (Quaracchi), p. 265. 



Now all this while since that night of the mysterious voice 
at Spoleto, many months ago, Francis regarded himself as 
waiting upon the good-will of his Lord, Jesus Christ; and 
whatever happened to him apart from his own seeking (and 
he sought but little of his own will these days), he took as 
coming from the Divine Will. He doubted not that Christ 
Himself had sent the leper across his path and had put it 
into his heart to embrace the leper as he did and thus find 
the dedicated life. There was yet a period of probation to be 
gone through before he would be fully initiated ; of that he 
was fully aware; but he was happy with "a sweetness of 
soul and body " at being enrolled amongst his Lord's servitors.^ 
His most imperious feeling now was one of intense loyalty 
to bis Divine Master, which went with a shy worship of that 
new mystery of life which was gradually being revealed to 
him in his intercourse with the poor and suffering. He 
recognized clearly that this new life was the gift of the Lord, 
and that it must be gained in His service : it was in fact 
the kingdom which his Lord shared with His followers. 

' Vide Testamentum S. Franc. : ' Tlio Lord Himself gave to me, Brother 
Francis, thus to begin to do penance. . . . The Lord Himself led me amongst 
them [the lepers] — and I showed mercy to them : and when I left them what 
had seemed bitter to me was changed into sweetness of body and soul." 



Through all this kingdom, as he was coming to know it, he 
saw the resplendent figure of the Lord Christ reflected in all : 
the beggar and the leper were touched with His majesty, and 
the earth thej' dwelt on, acquired a new sanctity because 
this glory of the Christ was upon them. And that was the 
singular thing about Francis' turning towards religion : it did 
not raise a barrier between him and the earth, but the earth 
itself became transformied in his sight and gave him a new 
joy. In earlier days he had regarded it with a certain eager 
reverence as the scene and circumstance of high chivalry : 
now he looked upon it with even greater reverence because 
of this new life revealed in it, and found in it an even greater 
joy. Such an attitude of mind would hardly have been toler- 
ated by the professional religious reformers who demanded 
an utter negation of present joy and held out as a reward 
some distant joy in another world. Instinctively Francis 
avoided their counsels : their theories had no relation to 
the realities into which he had been caught up. Occasionally 
in moments of acute doubt, he sought advice from the bishop, 
and came away strengthened and comforted.^ Doubtless the 
bishop thought it would all end in Francis becoming a monk 
or entering the priesthood : but whatever he thought, he was 
sympathetic and helpful and did not exert any undue pressure 
to determine the course of Francis' life. But for the most 
part Francis kept his own counsel : yet humbly and without 
deliberate contradiction of other people's ways, being wholly 
wrapt up in the mystery of his own life and in the expectancy 

'Of. 3 Soc. 10; Spec. Perfect, cap. 10. Francis in the Spec. Perfect, 
cites as one reason of hig great reverence for bishops, tlie l^indness shown him 
by the bishop of Assisi "from the beginning of my conversion" . Cf. Ada SS. 
Ootob. 11. p. 584. Bishop Guide was elected in 1204. Of. Ughelli, Italia 
Sacra, I, p. 479, XV. 


of his Lord's commands. This simplicity o£ soul was prob- 
ably the safeguard of his truthfulness and sincerity, as well 
as the evidence. 

So we come to those final stages by which Francis reached 
his great decision. He was walking one day near the little 
church of San Damiano which stands on the slope of the hill 
outside the city walls as you follow the Via Francesca ^ looking 
towards Spello. The church was in a crumbling condition ; ^ 
no one seemed to have a care for it, and seeing this, Francis 
sense of reverence was troubled ; yet at the same time 
he felt strangely drawn to enter in. He followed the im- 
pulse and went and prayed before the altar. Suddenly he 
heard a voice speaking as it seemed to him from the crucifix. 
" Francis," it said, " go and repair my church which as thou 
seest is wholly a ruin." At hearing the voice Francis was at 
first startled and terrified ; then he became conscious that it 
was his L'jrd who spoke to him ; and for a while he could 
neither speak nor move, but was as one lost to the things of 
sense : Jesus Christ, for whose word he had waited, had 
spoken. But he remembered that service was demanded of 
him and roused himself ; in abashed astonishment he replied : 
"Gladly, Lord, will I repair it". And then he felt a mar- 
vellous love for the crucified Christ take possession of him, 

^ The Via Francesca was one of the principal roads on the way between 
San Damiano and the Portiuncula, in the time of St. Francis. To-day it is a 
mere narrow path. The name, it may be remarked, was not called after St. 
Francis ; it existed before his day. 

2 According to Thode, Saint Frani;ois d'Asiise et I'Art Italicn, ii. p. 13, it 
was already in existence in 1030. It was one of those small churches, a 
nave without aisles, and rudely built of stone, which abound even to-day in 
Italy. San Damiano still exists in almost primitive simplicity, but a side 
chapel was built in the seventeenth century to accommodate the famous crucifix 
carved by Fra Inuooenzio di Palermo. 


such a love as he had never felt before ; and he knew that for 
the sake of Him, he vpould vv^iUingly perform any service even 
to the death. 

He rose from his knees and went out of the church and 
found the priest who served it, sitting near by ; and he offered 
him a large sum of money, saying : " I pray thee, signore, to 
buy oil and keep a lamp always burning before the Crucified : 
and when this money is all expended, I will give thee more" 
Then he went on his way, lifted above himself and seeing 
Christ crucified, and hearing the Voice, and oblivious to all 
else : for the crucifix had become a Living Thing to his spirit, 
and the centre of all living things. His Lord — -the Master of 
his life and service — was the Crucified, and He had made 
Himself known in that ruined church : and Francis was to 
repair the church. The facts shone with exuberant, insistent 
vitality. The esquire of the Crucified asked no questions, and 
formed no argument : his response was entire obedience and 
love. But that evening when Francis went back to the city, 
he too was already in some wise crucified in spirit, so wholly 
had he given his heart to his liege-lord.^ 

Without delay he set about his new service. He got to- 
gether a goodly stock of stuffs from his father's store, and 
mounting his horse, having first made the sign of the cross, 
he set off for Foligno, the busy city in the plain, where mer- 
chandise would always find a ready sale ; and there he sold 
not only the stuffs but also the horse, and then walked back 
the ten miles to Assisi, carrying the money he had gained ; 
and this he brought at once to the priest at San Damiano. 
Bending low, he kissed the priest's hand and offered him the 
money for the repairing of the church, and begged, as a favour, 
that he might be allowed to dwell with him at San Damiano ; 
iJI Gelano, 10; 3 Soo. 13, 14; Leg. Maj. i. 5. 



for he was eager to abide where his service was demanded, 
and he had now no stomach for hfe in his father's house. 
The priest was wholly unprepared for the turn events had 
taken ; and being a prudent man, but withal kindly, he re- 
fused to accept so large a sum of money, but consented to 
Francis remaining with him. Possibly the priest had heard 
talk about Francis' strange behaviour since his return from 
the pilgrimage to Eome, and was doubtful as to how it would 
all end : possibly he did not see the use of expending so much 
money on a crumbling way-side church, and preferred to 
spend his days in peace. At any rate, Francis could not pre- 
vail upon him to take the money : so he flung it into a window 
sill in the church and left it there. ^ He did not go home but 
took up his abode there and then with the priest. 

By this time, however, his father had returned to Assisi, 
and becoming alarmed at his son's absence, after a few days 
he set about making inquiries and at length learned the 
whole story of the sales at Foligno and how his son was now 
turned acolyte or hermit at San Damiano. And at that 
Pietro Bernardone was beside himself with sorrow and anger. 
Calling together a party of his friends he set out to put an 
end to this foolery. But some one of the household had 
already warned Francis, and when Pietro arrived at the little 
sanctuary, his son had gone, no one knew whither. 

Francis, you see, was not yet a perfect hero. He had no 
thought of surrendering before the violence of his father nor 
of going back upon his plighted fealty to the Crucified who 
had called him; but he was not yet man enough to stand his 
ground and meet the assault. He shrank before the ridicule 
which he knew would be heaped upon him, and equally be- 
fore the violence, which in filial reverence and in conscience 

II Celano, 8-9; II Celauo, 11 ; 3 Soc. 16; Leg. Maj. ii. I. 


he could not return ; and even more than from the certain 
violence, he shrank from his father's curse which he knrw 
would surely fall upon him if he held out : and there is no- 
thing an Italian dreads more even to-day than the parental 
curse. But besides all this he was yet shy of confessing be- 
fore the world this new loyalty which possessed him : even 
as every honest man is shy of confessing his heart's love. 
He was but a neophyte and was lacking yet the full strength 
and confidence of a man. From his first settling down at 
San Damiano he had dreaded his father's coming and had 
bethought him of a cave into which he might safely retreat, 
and thither he had fled when the warning came : and there 
he remained in hiding for a whole month, so full of terror 
that he hardly ever ventured out into the sunlight. Food 
was brought to him secretly by the only friend who knew the 
place of his retreat. 

These days, however, were not without a joy of their own. 
In the dark solitude he held constant communion of soul with 
his Divine Lord : new light poured into his mind and 
strength into his heart ; at times he would shrink into him- 
self as he thought of the stormy trouble awaiting him ; at 
other times he was exalted with his newly-found happiness. 
But the day came when he felt it too great an indignity to the 
Lord he served, thus to lurk in dark corners for the fear of 
men. No true knight would shirk the combat nor refrain 
from open confession of his allegiance. He nrust live his life 
in the open and bear witness to his Lord, and if needs be, 
suffer in the doing. So one day, casting all care for himself 
upon the Lord he served, he issued forth from his cave and 
appeared in the streets of Assisi. He was much changed 
in appearance from the gay youth of the past. The mental 
struggle he had gone through and the fastings and bodily 



discomforts, had made him thin and emaciated and given his 
face a deep pallor as of a corpse. The people meeting him 
were shocked : they thought he must verily have gone mad ; 
and with the cruelty which the curious often have, they 
taunted him upon his madness and jeered at him. And as 
Francis, taking it all in the spirit of the Crucified, made no 
spirited retort, the gathering crowd took courage and flung 
mud and stones at him. Still no sign of anger escaped him. 
In truth he was feeling a curious gladness in this baptism of 
fire, all the more conscious because of the fears which had 
held him back this month past. 

But Assisi is but a small city and the news of his son's 
reappearance and the reception he was getting, swiftly reached 
the ears of Pietro Bernardone, and a new sense of humiliation 
was added to his anger. He ran out into the streets and 
seized his son and carried him back to his house, meanwhile 
giving vent to his fury in imprecations and good moralities : 
then when they reached the house, he gave Francis a sound 
flogging and finally locked him in a dark room. In such wise 
did Pietro think to end this strange freak which was bringing 
ridicule upon his house. "VA'hen a few days later he had to 
go abroad on business, he took the precaution to secure his 
prisoner by putting manacles upon his hands and feet. In 
time, doubtless, Francis would come to his senses : if not, 
Pietro knew what he would do. Fortunately he had other 
sons of a less fantastic disposition, who might turn out good 
mercers and reputable citizens : there was, in particular, 
Angelo, the youngest son, a level-headed youth.i Yet it went 

1 Atjgelo in fa '.t seems to have continued the family tradition and to have 
taken his plase a^nongst the notable citizens. He had a son who joined the 
Penitential fraternity, as is evident from a legal document published by Cristo- 
faui, in which he is styled Picardiis continens. Of. Cristofani, op. cit pp 50-51 


5ore with Pietro that Francis his eldest, the pride of his am- 
bitions, should have turned such a failure. And being an 
unimaginative man he could make no allowance for the per- 
sonal equation of temperament or character ; he could only 
see wilful opposition to his own designs and a disregard of 
the family honour and the flouting of unusual opportunities 
for a successful career. It did not occur to him that his 
treatment of his son was selfish and unduly severe : rather 
did he curse the fates which allowed this misfortune to hap- 
pen to himself and his house. His pride in his family was 
hurt, and that was the bitter thing to Pietro who had looked 
to make the house of Bernardone respected in the commune. 

The Lady Pica, however, took a more directly personal 
view of the matter, as women are apt to do. She understood 
her husband's disappointment, but she also knew and sym- 
pathized with the romantic disposition of her boy, and in her 
heart she was glad that he had turned from the frivolities of 
the world to the service of God and the poor. Not that she 
altogether approved of his abandonment of his home : he 
might serve God and the poor without doing that. And being 
a dutiful viife she grieved over her husband's bitterness and 
yearned to bring father and son to some mutual accommodation. 
So when Pietro had departed she came to Francis and set 
forth her thoughts and pleaded tearfully that he should meet 
his father's wishes as it were half-way. But there was 
that in the Lady Pica's heart which made her but a poor 
advocate agamst the imperious demands of Francis' calling : 
and she ceased to plead and went over to his side. Francis 
must after all be true to the Divine Voice. 

When Pietro Bernardone came back from his journey, he 
found Francis was gone ; for the Lady Pica had freed her boy 
from his chains and sent him forth with a mother's blessing 


to obey the call of his soul. And at that Francis had returned 
to his lodging at San Damiano. 

In the bitterness of his heart Pietro Bernardone cursed 
his wife ; then in a blind fury went off to find his son, think- 
ing still to bring him home and cure him of his folly, or at 
the worst to drive him from the city and its neighbourhood. 
But as he approached San Damiano, to his astonishment 
Francis came out to meet him, bearing himself confidently 
and without fear. Pietro, however, determined to make a 
brave show of his authority : harsh words and blows fell upon 
the son ; but there was no shrinking now. Francis suffered 
meekly yet stoutly : for the sake of Christ who had called him, 
he would suffer any injury ; but he would not betray his soul 
by returning to the world's ways. And at last Pietro de- 
sisted from blows and objurgations and came to bargaining. 
Francis should be free to go his own evil ways if he would 
renounce his inheritance and restore the money he had taken 
at Foligno. 

But here there was a difficulty. Francis would willingly 
renounce his claims to his father's property ; -but the money 
he had received at Foligno was no longer his to restore ; he 
had given it to the Church for the repair of the building of 
San Damiano and the relief of the poor. 

A bitter resolve was in the heart of Pietro Bernardone as 
he turned back and took his way towards the city. He would 
have his own to the last penny, but Francis should be no 
longer a son of his. He went at once, making no delay, to the 
palace of the commune in the great square and laid a claim 
before the consuls for a return of the money his son had taken 
and for his disinheritance ; and the consuls, knowing his 
trouble and willing to comfort so worthy a citizen, straight- 
way sent a herald to cite Francis before the communal court. 


But the herald brought back word that Francis refused the 
summons, declaring that as a man dedicated to religion he 
was not subject to the civic authorities but only to the bishop. 
Thereupon, finding no help in the consuls, who were un- 
willing to dispute the case with the Church, Pietro went to 
the bishop's court and lodged his complaint there. 

Now Bishop Guido was not always a man of peace and 
was quick to uphold the rights of the Church against any 
attempted infringement on the part of the citizens. But in 
this instance at least, he acted with irreproachable discretion. 
When Francis received the bishop's summons he answered : 
" I will come before the lord bishop gladly, for he is the father 
and lord of souls ". At the trial, the bishop bade Francis re- 
store the money he had given to San Damiano, declaring with 
a certain aristocratic scorn ; " God does not wish His Church 
to be succoured with goods which perhaps are gotten by in- 
justice ". Then he bade Francis have a stout heart and trust 
in the Lord and have no fear, for that God would provide for 
him in his necessities in return for the service of His Church. 
At this Francis was moved with gratitude, taking the words 
as a promise from God Himself to have a care of him. Eising 
up in the court he handed over the money and, as he did so, 
cried out : " My lord, not only the money which belongs to him, 
but also the clothes I wear, which are his, will I give back " : 
and there and then he took off his clothes, and laid them 
before the bishop. Men noticed that beneath the rich robe, 
Francis wore a hairshirt. Then, standing naked, he turned 
to the people who stood about the court and called aloud : 
" Hear all of ye and understand : until now I have called 
Pietro Bernardone my father ; but because I propose to serve 
the Lord I return him his money, concerning which he was 
troubled, and all the clothes I had of him : for now I wish to 


say : Our Father Who art in heaven, and not, father Pietro 
Bernardone ". 

Never before perhaps had such an act of renunciation 
been made in that court. The bishop wept and so did all 
the people, as much in admiration as in pity, because of the 
simple sincerity of the act. Pietro, steeling his heart, 
gathered up the money and clothes, and went out. The people 
seeing him take away the clothes, looked after him with ex- 
clamations of anger : but as the chronicler says : " His father 
was inflamed with fury and with an exceeding sorrow". 
There was no triumph in Pietro 's heart as he left the court : 
he went back to his house conscious that the glamour of the 
high position he had once thought to hold amongst its neigh- 
bours, was gone. He might indeed leave to his sons who 
remained with him a wealthy business and a standing in 
the commune : but he had dreamt of more than this when 
he had watched Francis playing the prince amongst the city's 
youth : and that dream would never lighten his blood again, 
He returned home a hard and bitter man ; yet not without 
his sorrow. 

Meanwhile the bishop was befriending Francis as a new- 
born son of the Church. In compassion he had taken the 
young man to his arms and wrapt him about with the folds 
of his mantle until a farm-labourer's tunic was brought from 
one of the bishop's servants. This Francis put on, first 
chalking it with the sign of the cross. Then he took his 
leave, nor did the bishop seek to prevent him, and for that 
too Francis was grateful. ^ 

It was in truth his marriage day : at last he had found 

II Celano, 13-15; II Celano, 12; 3 Soo. 16-20; Leg. Maj. ii. 2-4. 
The legend of the Anonymus PeriUnus says that Fraucis' disiuheritauoe took 
place on 16 April, 1207. Ct Acta S3. Octob. Ii. p. 672. 


and wedded the Lady Poverty for whom he had been search- 
ing with constant loyalty since he had heard the Voice at 
Spoleto. He wondered, perhaps, as men are apt to wonder, 
that he had been so long unknowing, seeing how near she 
had been to him all these days, but not yet understanding that 
his blindness was due in part to Poverty's own leading of her 
lover. For one must needs first learn the individual graces 
and values of one's ideal and test one's capacity for worship 
in the presence first of this grace and then of that, and 
moreover understand something of the sacrifice which wor- 
ship entails, before one can truly give oneself to the ideal as 
a unity or personality. 

Ail his life, had Francis but known it, he had been wor- 
shipping the Lady Poverty in an incomplete way. In the 
days when he followed the troubadour and sang their songs 
in joyous abandonment, he had been worsh pping, in some 
distant way, the mystery of the actual world of men and 
things, which afterwards was one of his joys in his converse 
with poverty ; his very prodigality at the civic feast was akin 
to the open-handedness of the poverty which in later years 
he defined as in part " a free giving " ;'■ in his intercourse 
with the poor when he made himself their friend rather than 
their patron, he had bowed before the spirit of comradeship 
and the quick understanding of misery, which he came to re- 
cognize as a property of his ideal. For all this varied under- 
standing he had been grateful and worshipful : yet did the 
ultimate worship come to him only on the day of his disin- 
heritance when his soul and body were set free from the ties 
of wealth and secular ambition : and in this freedom he knew 
that at last his heart had found its deepest desire. That 
freedom in which were gathered all his soul's inspirations as 

1 Of. I Celano, 17. 


in their home, was the Lady Poverty ; that and nothing 
less. And now you know perhaps why the poverty which 
was Francis' ideal love, is styled " the Lady Poverty ". It is 
because of the nobility of hfe which she brought to Francis ; 
her simple love of God and His creatures, her generosity and 
pitifulness, her sense of kinship with all the world which 
acknowledges " our Father in heaven " : all which things, the 
lust of wealth and the ambition for power and honours are 
apt to pass by. as of no account.^ 

So Francis had become his own man, so far as the world 
saw: but in truth he was the lover of his ideal Poverty. 

' Concerning the significance of Fiancisoan poverty, cf. Tlie Lady 
Poverty, a translation by Montgomery Carmichael of tlie Sacrum Commer- 
cium S. Fiancisci cum Domina Paupertate ; of. also St. Francis and Poverty, 
by the present writer. 




Francis went back to San Damiano, but he could not at 
once settle himself there. For awhile he must leave Assisi 
and its neighbourhood and be alone with his own soul. He 
was yet somewhat dazed by this freedom which had come to 
him, and the fullness of life which it brought. He must have 
time to reahze his happiness and to get accustomed to this 
new liberty. Quite what it all meant he did not even yet 
know. Only this was he certain of, that he was now 
Christ's servitor, acknowledged as such by the Church, and 
that Christ had called him to a life of blissful poverty un- 
known in the world where men bartered away their souls' 
freedom for material gain and secular ambition. This little 
church of San Damiano was waiting to be repaired, and 
across the woods the lepers, his new friends, would be ex- 
pecting him. But these must wait for a time. 

He set out over the hills which lay to the north beyond 
Monte Subasio. It was the spring-time when the fields and 
the woods and all the earth is instinct with new life, and the 
air is still pure from the winter's frosts and rains and fragrant 
with the scent of the spring vegetation. High up in the 
mountains the snow had not yet melted in the hollows and 
nooks where the shadows mock the sun, but upon the plain 
and face of the hills was a virginal warmth. As he went 



along, now with a quickened step, now at more leisurely pace, 
there was joy in the heart of Francis. The friendly earth 
had no jar upon his happiness : it too was young and free 
and vital as he. Instinctively he recognized the comradeship 
of the mountain heights and the deep ravines and the 
shadowy woods, and of the bare rugged slopes, so strong and 
bracing, and yet revealing a tenderness where the wild flowers 
nestle in the rocky soil. And as he went he sang, not in his 
native tongue but in the musical language of the Proven9al 

So he had come to the heights on the left bank of the 
river Chiagio where the hills begin to decline towards Gubbio, 
a perilous lonely place where the traveller must beware of 
the robbers who infested the neighbourhood, claiming toll 
from those who journeyed between the marches of Ancona 
and the cities of Umbria. Suddenly he was stopped by a 
party of these marauders, who demanded who he might be. 
" What is that to you ? " replied Francis. " But know I am 
a herald of the Great King." He uttered in simple sincerity 
the thought which was in his mind. With ferocious humour 
the robbers stripped him of his labourer's tunic and tossed 
him into a ditch in which the snow still lay. "Lie there, 
thou fool herald ! " they jibed, and so left him.-'^ 

Francis picked himself up gaily : it was an adventure in 
this new quest. But he was almost naked and must needs 
find some garment to clothe him. Not far away was a 
monastery : thither he went and offered himself as a servant, 
hoping thus to obtain both food and clothing. The monks 
put him to assist in the kitchen, giving him food but refusing 

1 1 Celano, 16 ; Leg. Maj. ii. 5. Tradition places the scene of thia inci- 
dent at Caprignone. Of. Lucarclli, Memorie e Ouida Storica di Oubbio, p. 
583 scq. : P. Nicola Cavanna, L'Umbria Francescana, p. 194 seq. 


him any garment. In sheer necessity therefore, but with no 
ill-will, Francis left them after a few days.^ His thoughts 
turned now towards a friend of former time who lived in the 
city of Gubbio, and thither he made his way. His friend re- 
ceived him kindly. After all it was not a rare occurrence foi- 
men to embrace a rehgious penitential life, and a friend at a 
distance might well take a more detached view of a man's 
doings than could be demanded from his daily companions 
and neighbours. Anyway, Francis was given a dress similar 
to that worn by hermits and pilgrims : a tunic with a leathern 
girdle, and shoes and a staff.^ He then made his way back 
again to Assisi. 

At San Damiano the priest made him welcome, and with 
a simple courtesy bade him share what shelter and food was 
his.' Francis now set himself to fulfil the service which the 
Voice had given him to do. He did not yet realize the largei' 
significance of the bidding to "go and repair My Church ". 
That is to come to him later on and then he will know that 
it is the Church of living souls which he is to help restore to 
its strength and beauty. At present he takes the words to 
refer merely to the crumbling sanctuary in which he heard 
the Voice. As he looked back across the intervening weeks 
to the day when the command had come to him, a whole age 

^ It is impossible to identify this monastery, as there were several monas- 
teries in the neighbourlrood ; San Verecondo at Vallingegno, S. Pietro in 
Vigneti ; whilst local tradition claims the incident for Santa Maria della 
Rocoa near Valfabbrica. It is well to know that the prior of the monastery 
later on, when Francis had become famous, apologized for the lack of charity 
(I Celano, 16). 

^ICelano, 16; Leg. Maj. ii. 6. According to tradition the friend was a 
Prederigo Spadalunga, upon the site of whose house it is said the great church 
of San Francesco was afterwards built. Cf. G. Mazzatinti in Miscell. Franc. 
Vol. V, p. 76 seq. 

3Cf. 3 Soo. 21. 


seemed to have passed as in a moment of eternity, for there 
are happenings in the soul's experience which are as the 
moments of eternity, when the clear light leaps suddenly 
from out the dim glimmerings of long years. It seemed 
strange to him now that he should have thought to buy the 
materials for the repairing of the Church with his father's 
money. That money, and all the hfe with which it was as- 
sociated, was now to him so unreal. Only his blindness could 
have made him think to fulfil his service with such a begin- 
ning. His work and all his life must needs be his homage 
to that noble Poverty which had come to him. With a light 
heart he appeared for the first time in his native city as a 
beggar. He wanted oil to replenish the lamp which he had 
lit before the crucifix that day of the Voice. But as he drew 
near to the house where he had thought to beg the oil, he 
saw a party of his former friends making merry in the door- 
way ; and at the sight of them his courage failed him, and all 
the dignity of his new manhood with which he had started 
on his quest, seemed to shrink within him. He drew back 
and went another way. But the weakness did not last long. 
Ashamed of his cowardice he retraced his steps, and walking 
into the midst of the party he told them to look upon a 
coward who had run away in shame. Then boldly he 
begged of them some oil, falling as he did so into the lan- 
guage of Provence : and with the hardly earned oil he re- 
turned to San Damiano, feeling at once the humiliation and 
joy of the day.^ After this he was to be seen frequently in 
the city, begging stones and mortar and whatever he needed 
for the rebuilding of the church. As he went through the 
streets he chanted a rhythm in the Provencal tongue : " Who 
will give stones for the renewing of San Damiano '? whoso 

' 8 Soo. 24 , II Celano, 13. 


gives one stone shall have one reward ; whoso gives two stones 
shall have two rewards ; whoso gives three stones shall have 
three rewards ". Some who heard him jeered at him as a 
man gone mad, but others more kindly gave him what he 
asked for ; and Francis with his load would toil back to his 
sanctuary. ^ 

With the aid of the friendly peasants he set to work upon 
the church, borne up in the heavy labour to which he was 
unused, by the great happiness in his soul. At times people 
from the city or travellers would stop to pass the greetings 
of the day and gossip with the builders. Francis, sociable 
and generous, would sometimes bid them come and take a 
hand at the work. " Come and help us in our work," he 
would say, "for this church of San Damiano will one day 
be a convent of ladies whose life and fame will glorify our 
heavenly Father in all the world." ^ From this saying, it is 
evident that Francis in his hours of solitary meditation and 
in his labour, was already receiving premonitions of the larger 
work before him : but the future was in God's Hands, and 
Francis was happy in the work of the present. 

Day by day he worked away at the walls ; but meanvi'hile 
he did not forget his friends the lepers. Part of his time he 
gave to their service, either at the leper settlement at Santa 
Maddalena, or at the hospital of San Salvatore where the 
Crucigeri, or Cross-bearing brothers, took them in and nursed 
them. And ever his reverence and love for the lepers seemed 
to grow in him. One day he met a leper on the road who 
was coming back from a pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles 
in Rome, whither he had gone to beseech for a cure of his 

1 3 Soo. 21 ; II Celano, 13 ; Leg. Maj. ii. 7. 

-3 Soc. 24; Testamentum S. Clara in Seraph. Legist. Textus Oii-jinales, 
p. 274. 


disease. His face was eaten away and he was pitiful to look 
upon. Won by Francis' brotherly sympathy, the poor sufferer 
threw himself upon the ground to kiss the imprint of his feet, 
delicately avoiding touching the person of his friend. But 
Francis, much moved by this act of courtesy, bent and took 
the man in his arms and kissed him on the mouth. At the 
kiss, says Saint Bonaventure, the leprosy disappeared. ^ 

But often at the close of day Francis was spent with his 
labours and over-tired. So delicately nurtured as he had 
been, not even his new-born happiness and love could 
altogether uphold his physical strength. And the priest, 
seeing him thus utterly worn, would grow anxious and fear- 
ful. In his solicitude he began to prepare more appetizing 
foods to tempt the young neophyte to eat after his day's 
work. At first Francis accepted this kindness with a simple 
gratitude ; till one day he began to feel a danger to his voca- 
tion in the priest's thoughtful care of him, and he took fright, 
being mindful of his natural inclination for things delicate 
and tasteful. Having left the luxuries of the world he might 
yet enslave himself to the simple comforts of this priest's 
house and lose his soul's freedom and become a traitor to the 
poverty he had come to love. "Not everywhere Francis," 
he argued with himself, " will }'ou find men to minister to 
your wants as does this good priest : this is not the life of one 
who professes poverty ; nor does it behove thee to get accus- 
tomed to such things, else wilt thou after awhile return to the 
things thou hast cast behind and once more run after de- 
licacies. Else up thou lazy one and go begging from door 
to door the leavings of the table." So as one in danger of 
turning recreant, he went next day into the city, carrying a 
dish ; and the citizens humouring his will, gave him the 

' Leg. Maj. ii. 6 ; of . I Gelano, 17. 


scraps from their tables, so that his dish was filled. But 
when Francis came to eat of it, his ingrained daintiness 
kicked, nor at first could he constrain himself to eat. Then 
he did battle with himself ; he recalled to mind the poverty 
of Christ and the hardships of the poor and his own sworn 
allegiance; and in the end his loyalty conquered. He made 
his meal of the mess of broken victuals, even with something 
of an appetite, for he began to feel in the eating a strange 
spiritual joy. This meal became to him a sort of sacramental 
communion, bringing him into closer kinship with the multi- 
tude who depend for their daily bread upon the goodwill of 
men and with those whose generosity was feeding him, and 
with the Lord Christ who is at once the Lord of rich and 
poor. And over all this great human family into which he 
felt himself caught up, lay the bright mystery of the Divine 
Providence to whose care he had committed himself on the 
day of his disinheritance. In the goodwill of men upon 
whom he had no claim beyond the claim of his human ne- 
cessity, he saw at once the symbol, and in some sense the 
fulfilment, of the solicitude of Him Who sends down His rain 
upon the just and the unjust with no grudging hand : and 
this seemed to him now a duty, that as he had cast his care 
upon that Divine bounty he must also trust himself to the 
goodwill and bounty of man and all creation. It were no 
new thing to him to play the part of the generous giver : 
that he had done all his life and would continue to do with 
all the means he had : and this too he considered a mark of 
noble manhood and a duty of honour for all the children of 
God.i But in his dependence upon the goodwill of men he 
found a more intimate sense of God's Fatherhood and of the 
encircHng bond of kinship which makes all the world a family : 

1 C£. I Celano, 17. 


and for this reason he henceforth regarded the beggar, in his 
utter dependence, with an immense reverence as one who 
held m his condition the secret of that active love which gives 
a man the full freedom of the family of God and makes the 
wide earth one domestic hearth. In the same way he came 
to reverence all weak and helpless things. It would not be 
easy to construct an economic system upon this worship of 
the beggar which now became a part of Francis' life : for 
you would need to work into the system the religious faith 
and high qualities of heart and the soaring ideahsm, which 
gave to this worship its equipoise and perfect sanity. More- 
over it must be remembered that Francis' wiUingness to 
receive from others was indissolubly wedded to a readiness to 
give — a combination of qualities not always linked together. 
But as Francis would have told you, he who would accept in 
the spirit of brotherhood the gift of another, must place no 
fence around his own property. He must himself be a ser- 
vant to others, before he can rightly accept another's service. 
Good service must go with the questing for alms ; else do the 
alms become a defrauding of the giver, a species of rapine 
and a blasphemy against the Providence which inspires a 
generous soul. Francis never spared the idler who lived at 
ease on others' gifts. Hence in after years when disciples 
came to him, he was insistent on the moral obligation of 
labour and the service of one's neighbour : just as in these 
first days of his alms-seeking, he comes to the city from his 
toihng upon the walls of San Damiano and the nursing of 
the lepers. Only whilst he gives his own service he will 
bargain for no wage but be wholly dependent upon his neigh- 
bour's good-will and God's over-ruhng providence.' True, 

^ a. Saint Francis and Poverty by the present author : and also St. 
Fraiicis of Assisi, Social Beformer, by Pr. Leo Dubois. 


he might upon this same ground have accepted the kindly 
meals offered him by the priest : but Francis was hungering 
for the uttermost of poverty and careful for the freedom of 
his soul : and he feared lest the simple comfort and regular 
provision of the priest's house should make him slack in his 
spiritual quest and hold him back from his new-found Hberty. 
So with heroic resolve he took upon him the estate of the 
beggar in the street. And would he have been the Francis 
that we love, had he done less ? 

From that day Francis, begging his bread from door to 
door, became a famihar figure in the streets of Assisi. His 
daily round was not without its humiliation and suffering. 
What he felt most keenly was the bitterness of his father. 
Pietro Bernardone never met his son in the street but he 
cursed him. This business of going abegging for his bread 
was the last indignity Francis had heaped upon the proud 
spirit of his house. Very bitter after all was Pietro's lot : 
all his canons of respectability were being openly set at nought, 
and all the sacred prejudices of his class being violated by this 
son of his, whom he might disinherit and disown, but whom 
the people, and still more he himself, would always remember 
as his son. He could cheat neither his memory nor his heart 
by the blatant act of disinheritance : but as the sapient old 
chronicle remarks, " because he had loved his son much he 
was now asham.ed of him and did much grieve over him ".^ 

One day Francis, quivering under Pietro's curse, sought 
out a simple beggar man. " Come and accompany me on my 
quests," he said, "and I will give thee a share in the alms I 
receive. And when thou shalt see my father curse me, I on 
my part will say to thee : ' bless me, my father ; ' and thou 
shalt make the sign of the cross over me in my father's stead ! " 

1 3 SoG. 23. 

4 * 


At the next meeting of father and son, when Pietro uttered 
his usual curse, the beggar made the sign of blessing as had 
lieen agreed. Then Francis turned to his father: "Believe 
you not," he said, " that God can give me a father to bless 
nie against your curses ? " Others of his family affected to 
take him less seriously. One cold winter's morning one of 
his brothers, in company with a friend, came upon Francis 
very barely clad; and the brother said to his friend: "Go 
and ask Francis to sell us a drop of his sweat". Francis 
overheard the remark, and laughed aloud. " Nay," he replied 
in French, " I sell it more dearly to my Lord." ^ 

So the days went by. Francis was gradually learning the 
lesson of his calling. In the hard realities of those days of 
physical discomfort and fatigue and personal humiliation, he 
was shedding the last illusions of his upbringing, and gaining 
the experience with which the poor and helpless are so in- 
timately familiar. His comfort came to him in his long hours 
of communion with his Divine Master, when his new experi- 
ences became transfused with a spiritual glory, and be began 
to see the trace of the Redeemer of the world in the world's 
sorrow and hardship and contradictions: and this made his 
new hfe very sweet to him ; for everywhere he began to find 
the presence of his Lord, and the earth in its comminghng of 
sorrow and beauty, of goodness and sin, became to him a 
veritable crucifix. This transfigurement of the very earth 
was indeed the joy and wonderment of these days of purga- 
tion, and, as he afterwards confessed, the singular dower of 
his Lady Poverty." 

The rebuilding of San Damiano being at length completed, 
Francis set to work upon another crumbling chapel dedicated 
to St. Peter which stood some little distance from Assisi, but 

' 3 Soo. 23 ; II Celano, 12. 2 Of. Pioretti, cap. 12. 


the exact site of which is now not known.* Then when his 
work here was finished, he turned to another wayside chapel 
which too was in need of repairs, and to which his heart 
went out with a peculiar yearning, for it was dedicated to the 
Virgin Mother of God and about it were told strange stories 
of angelic visitants. It was known as the chapel of Santa 
Maria della Porziuncola — Saint Mary of the Little Portion. 
How it came by its name nobody can tell with any certitude,^ 
though in after years a story was told which may have had 
its origin in a local tradition. In the days of St. Cyril the 
bishop of Jerusalem, the story goes, four pilgrims left Pales- 
tine to visit the shrines of the Apostles at Pome and after- 
wards by the advice of the Pope they came seeking a hermit- 
age in Umbria where they might peacefully serve God ; and 
they came to this wood near Assisi and built themselves a 
chapel and four huts. In memory of the land they came 
from, they dedicated the chapel under the title of Saint Mary 
of Jehosaphat. They were holy men, and the spot they chose 
was holy ; for often in the chapel were heard the voices of 
angels praising God. But after a time they bethought them 
of their native land, and first burying a relic of our Lady's 
sepulchre beneath the altar of the chapel, they returned 
to Palestine. But the angels loved the chapel and continued 

'ICelano, 21; Leg. Maj. u. 1. Celano says the Church was near the 
city ; but St. Bonaventure says it was further oS than San Damiauo. 

^The origin of the title " de Portiuncula " is disputed. Some say it was 
given to the chapel because of the straitness of the ground given to the Bene- 
dictines when they built the chapel; others, that the title was taken from 
another chapel built in the neighbourhood of Subiaco. Cf. P. Edouard 
d'Alengon, Des Origines de I'Eglise de la Pc/rtiuncula. The first known 
mention of the name of the Porziuncola is in a legal document of 1045, dis- 
covered by Froudini in the archives of the Cathedral of Assisi. Cf. P. 
Edouard d'Alengon, L'Abbaye de Saint-Benoit au Mont Soubase, p. 18, n. 1 


to visit it and sing the praises of God there ; and from time 
to time a hermit would come and dwell by the chapel ; but 
more often it was deserted. Then came Saint Benedict, the 
father of monks, passing upon a time through Umbria, and 
chancing upon the chapel he discovered its holiness and had 
it restored. And he went and begged a small plot of ground 
adjoining the chapel and built a cell there : and because of the 
gift of land, he renamed the chapel, Saint Mary of the Little 
Portion. And he sent monks thither from the great monas- 
tery of Monte Cassino. But the monks after many years 
built a monastery on Monte Subasio and forsook the chapel 
in the plain.' Be the truth of this story what it may, the 
chapel was undoubtedly very ancient. It stood in the plain, 
two miles from the city, and the intervening ground was 
covered with a dense wood. One might easily lose one's way 
in the shadowy paths which struck off from the Via Francesca, 
the highway that skirted the city walls. Quite possibly this 
chapel, so remote in its solitude yet so conveniently near the 
city, had been one of Francis' retreats since first he began 

•Of. p. Edouard d'Alencon, Des Origines de I'Eglis? de la Portiiimula. 
The legend is first found in Paradisus Seraphicus written by P. Salvator Vitalis 
and published at Milan in 1645, a work of uo critical value. There is more- 
over no historical record of any visit of St. Benedict to Assisi ; nor of the 
hermits who are supposed to have dwelt there. The chapel nevertheless was 
very ancient even in St. Francis' time. Celano says it was " built in ancient 
days " " antiquitus constructa " (I Celano, 21), and St. Bonaventure writes 
that it was often visited by angels and that "from olden time it was called 
Saint Mary of the Angels" {Leg. Maj. ii. 8; cf. ii Celano, 19). Also, it 
belonged to the monks of Monte Subasio. Around these facts the legend may 
have been woven by the peasantry before it found its way into Vitalis' 
book. It is not unlikely that hermits had at times dwelt there before St. 
Francis' day, owing to the natural seclusion. The wood has long since given 
place to olive gardens and vineyards, but there is yet an indication of it out- 
Bide the Porta di Mojano as you go towards the Church of San Damiauo. 


to withdraw from the world : but now as he worked at its 
walls the attraction grew upon him. It became like home to 
to him, did this leafy sohtude with its little chapel : in some 
way it was a fitting symbol of the Lady Poverty. Not far 
away, less than half-an-hour's walk, were the leper settlements, 
and not much further off was the city : this human neigh- 
bourhood was needful for the discharge of those neighbourly 
services he owed his fellow-man and for his beggar's quest : 
but here in the wood within hail of his fellow-men, he found 
what his soul delighted in — the companionship of Nature un- 
spoilt by the artifice of man. He loved the music in the trees 
when the wind rustled in the leaves, and the pipmg of the 
birds, and the movement of some animal in the undergrowth : 
all beasts of earth or air were dear to him. He loved too 
the lights and shadows and the wonderful growth of grass and 
tree. All these things seemed to him to lie close to the heart of 
created life and to the hand of the Creator, and they warmed 
his own heart and filled him with a great reverence. Some- 
how too they seemed to him the dower of the Lady Poverty, 
even as did the beggar and the sufferer, because they lacked 
the artificiality of the world of prosperous men and therefore 
bespoke more truly and simply the providence of God. And 
then this chapel in the wood was as a witness to the nearness 
of heaven to the simple things of the earth. It was no strange 
thing to him that angels' voices should mingle with the voices 
of the wood in the Creator's praise, and it was to him a sign 
of the nobility of his ideal Poverty that the Mother of God 
should have inspired men to dedicate this spot under her 
name, as though she would clothe the Lady Poverty in a 
mantle of her own glory. ^ 

' See the Salutatio Virtulum (Opuscula S. P. Franc, ed. Quarracchi, 
pp. 20-31), in praise of poverty and the sister virtues wliicli St. Francis always 


Thus in those quiet hours of labour and prayer Francis 
was learning the deeper values of the life he had taken. 

The chapel of the Porziuncola was restored by the opening 
of the year 1209, and mass was now occasionally said there. 
Again Francis was awaiting the command of the Lord. The 
inward assurance which had bidden him set his hand to the 
repairing of the three deserted churches and find his vocation 
in that employment, had now gone, and his soul was again 
listening for the voice of the Lord which was his guidance. 
He knew the voice would come to him in God's own time 
and he knew the time was near. It was the moment between 
the dawn and the day, that moment never afterwards for- 
gotten by the soul, so full is it of the breaking mystery of life. 
The revelation came, as it always comes, even to the expectant 
spirit, unexpectedly : and it came to him at the Porziuncola. 

One day towards the end of winter — it was the feast of 
St. Mathias the Apostle, 24 February — a priest was saying 
mass in the chapel and Francis was assisting, and the Gospel 
which the priest read was this : " Going forth, preach, saying : 
The kingdom of heaven is at hand. . . . Possess not gold nor 
silver nor money in your purses nor scrip for your journey, nor 
two coats nor shoes nor a staff; for the workman is worthy 
of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town you shall 
enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and there abide till you go 
hence. And when you come into a house, salute it, saying : 
Peace be to this house. . . . Behold I send you as sheep m 
the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents but 
simple as doves. . . . But when they shall deliver you up, take 

especially associated with the virtue of poverty. This salutation is in several 
MSS. inscribed as a praise of the Blessed Virgin (of. P. Paschal Robinson, 
Tlie Writings of St. Francis, p. 20, u. 6; Boehmer, Analekten, pp. vi and 


no thought how or what to speak : for it shall be given you 
in that hour what to speak." ^ 

Francis, as was his wont, hstened intently as the Gospel 
was read, for this book had become verily to him the book of 
life. But to-day the words were like the sudden breaking of 
bonds : this was the Truth for which his soul had waited. 
And yet he was timorous lest perhaps he had not understood 
aright. So after mass he begged the priest to read the Gospel 
again to him and explain its meaning. This the priest did. 
Then Francis exclaimed, no longer hesitating : " This is what 
I have been seeking ; this is what my heart yearns for " ; and 
in a sweet certainty he at once set about fulfilling his Lord's 
command. In that quickly responsive way he always had, he 
immediately put off his shoes and laid aside his staff, and 
divested himself of his second garment ; and because he was 
eager to draw even more nigh to his crucified Master, he 
made himself a habit shaped like a cross and instead of a 
leathern belt he girded himself with a rope.^ To him it was 
his solemn investiture as a knight of Christ. 

At that moment all his early dream of knightly adventure 
seemed well on the way to be satisfied, he being true and 
God's grace assisting. For certainly, he deemed, there could 

1 Matt. X. 7-19. This is the Gospel for the feast of St. Mathias in the 
ancient missals ; whence the Bollandists conclude that it was on this feast 
that Francis received his final call (cf. Acta SS., i Octoher, Tom. II, p. 
574; Boehmer, Analekten, p. 124; P. Sahatier, Vie de S. Francois, p. 78). 
Spader in Lutni Seraphici places the event on the feast of St. Luke, 12 Octo- 
ber, 1208 ; and he is followed by P^re Gratien in Etudes Franciscaines, Tome 
XVIII, No. 106, Ootobre, 1907, p. 388. 

Celano says the restoration of the Porziuncola took place in the third 
year of Francis' conversion (cf I Celano, 21). So also say Bernard of Basse 
(Lib. de Laudibus, in Anal. Franc, iii. p. 687), and Giordano da Giano (Chron. 
Jordan! in Anal. Franc, i. p. 2). 

2 1 Celano, 22 ; 3 Soc. 25 ; Leg. Maj. iii. 1. 


be no nobler knighthood than this, with Christ for his Kege- 
lord and his ideal Poverty for the lady of his worship. Out 
in the wide world he would go seeking souls in need of suc- 
cour ; and the powers of evil who raised enmities between God 
and man, and man and man, were the recreants against 
whom he must war ; and everywhere he would proclaim the 
reign of Christ and His peace. And in his love of Poverty 
he would find his strength and comfort to serve the Lord 
Christ well. 

So Francis takes up his life-burden. The golden sunlight 
of his youth's dream lies upon his path ; his heart is lifted 
up with a great love. The coming years will surely bring 
their meed of adventure and disillusion, of sorrow and joy ; 
but as he sets out upon his way sturdily and with a glad 
emotion, he tliinks little of the mystery of the future : enough 
for him is the obedience of the day. 



Taking the path through the wood one day shortly after that 
notable reading of the Gospel, Francis came into the city. 
His whole being was alight with the divine inspiration which 
was urging him on. Meeting some citizens intent upon their 
daily rounds he stopped, and with great earnestness saluted 
them: "Brothers, the Lord give you His peace". Hardly 
at first did they recognize him in his strange garment, with 
the rope round his waist and his feet bare ; but there was a 
look in his face as of one gazing beyond the earth into the 
heavens,^ which stopped their ready jest and compelled their 
reverence. They had now grown tolerant of his ways ; his 
evident sincerity and tenacity of purpose had begun to gain 
their respect. They might at times pass the laugh at him or 
meet him with a careless quip ; but few were able to resist 
his personal charm and the gentle good humour of his retorts. 
And then there was his industry in repairing the chapels and 
his devotion to the lepers. Those mediaeval folk were easily 
swayed either to derision or respect by what they saw of a 
man's work and by his bearing amongst them ; and they loved 
gallantry and fearlessness of any sort. But to-day there was 
something in Francis which quelled all inclination to jocularity 

^"Totus alter videbatur quam fuerat ; et cailum itittiens dedignabatur 
respicere terrain " (I Gelano, 23). 



as he poured forth a fervent plea for peace amongst men and 
love of the good God.i So often they had heard the same 
message delivered by some v?andering devotee or by the Pope's 
legate when he had upbraided them for their feuds or by some 
preacher in the Duomo. And always this appeal for peace 
amongst Christian men had seemed so right and yet so im- 
possible. How could any man maintain his standing amongst 
his fellows if he were a man of peace and kept apart from the 
quarrels of his family or class ? A man might as well turn 
monk at once. And yet as Francis pleaded with them they 
felt the sanctity of his words and a sense of guiltiness such as 
they had seldom felt before. They were not altogether con- 
vinced ; but as the new evangelist left them and passed on, 
they stood silent and amazed, and going their ways, they, for 
a while at least, remembered his plea. After this first day of 
his mission he went frequently into the city on the same 
errand. He preached no set discourse; he merely stopped 
the citizens as he met them, with his greeting of peace and 
his soulful plea : and soon men began to expect him and wait 
apon his words. It was a new excitement, this appearance 
of the son of Pietro Bernardone in the r61e of evangelist ; 
and if the truth must be told, the Assisians were probably 
not a little gratified. Most cities counted a lay- preacher 
amongst their excitements and he was sure of a hearing; 
though after a time, when factions formed around him, he 
might preach at the risk of his life. But Francis was diiiferent 
from most of the lay-evangelists. He neither denounced the 
magistrates nor the clergy ; he did not pour out vials of wrath 
on the sinner's head, nor did he show any contempt for the 
weaknesses of men. He spoke as one looking intently upon 
a vision of beauty, and asserting its claim upon men's lives, 

1 3 Soo. 25 ; Leg. Maj. iii. 2. 


and sorrowing for the blindness which made a man unseeing ; 
or as one who wishes to share with another the treasure he 
himself has found. And he was so manifestly happy in 
himself and in his message : and in this too he was unhke 
most other reformers. But with his change of garment he 
seemed, to have put on that indefinable quality which marks 
a man for moral leadership, which belongs to men who nol- 
only possess a faith but are possessed by it and who besides 
have a certain imperative need to share their faith with 
others. They do not necessarily make a conscious effort 
to attract disciples : the quality of the faith which is in them 
does this often without any specific act of will on their part : 
they find themselves leaders rather than make themselves 

When the spring had run but half its course Francis was 
no longer a solitary : his retreat at the Porzmncola had already 
welcomed his first disciples, or as he would have said, his 
first brothers in the knightly order of Poverty. They were 
Bernard da Quintavalle, Peter Cathanii and Giles ' — three 
valiant men, as their history afterwards proved. 

' Celano, 3 Soo. and Leij. Maj. mention Bernard by name but he is 
first Btyled Bernard da Quintavalle by Bernard of Besse in Liber de lavdibiis, ed. 
Hilarinus a Lucerna, p. 5. Cf. Chron. XXIV, Gen. in Anal. Franc, iii. p. 667, 
Actus S. Franc. 1. 10-44. Peter is named in the 3 See. and is undoubtedly 
referred to in I Celano, 25 : Statm avtem vir alter . . . qui valde in conversa- 
tione laudahilis eostitit et quod sancle cccjAt sanctius post modicitm consum- 
mavit. It is disputed whether this Peter is the Peter Cathanii who became 
Vicar General and died in 1221. But from Celano's description and his 
reference to Peter's death it seems probable. Peter Cathanii, according 
to the Chron. Jordani (Anal. Franc, i. p. 4) was a doctor of law and highly 
respected by St. Francis. Barthol. of Pisa says he was a Canon of the Cathe- 
dral (De Confwmit. in Anal. Franc, iv. p. 472). The words : " Valde in con- 
versatione laiidahilis " imply something more than uprightness of manners on 
the lipg of Celano, who always shows much leverence for learning. If it is 


Bernard da Quintavalle was the first to seek out Francis and 
abide with him.^ Like Francis, he was one of the merchant 
class," and wealthy : but in character he was of a very different 
mould. His nature was serious and thoughtful and not 
easily won over to enthusiasms, but given to weighing the 
values of things. He was quick to discern the true from the 
plausible, but would withhold his judgment till he had proved 
his instinct : a cautious man but loyal ; generous but diffi- 
dent. For some time past Bernard had been observant oi 
Francis : he had narrowly watched his bearing and resolu- 
tion ; had admired the sincerity aqd courage of his life of 
poverty and his industry in repairing deserted chapels, until 
in spite of his caution he began to feel drawn to follow him. 
Being a rehgious man he wanted to save his soul, and already 
he felt the vanity of the world. Not wishing to commit him- 
self in the eyes of the citizens, he visited Francis secretly 
and then offered him the hospitality of his house : and 
Francis, delighting in his company, went frequently to pass 

urged that Peter's death, supposing him to be the Peter who died in 1221, can 
hardly be said to have happened "post modicum,'" one must remember 
(lelano's use of such terms ; e.g. he speaks of the incident of the Stigmata 
a,3 happening "shortly after" {paulo post) Francis heard the Voice from the 
crucifix at San Damiano (cf. II Gelano, i, 11). 

' So say the 3 Soc. 27, and the Leg. Maj. iii. 3. But in I Cc'.ano, 24, 
mention is made of anotlier, a nameless one, who, says Celano, was the 
first to join himself to Francis before the three mentioned in the text. Who 
was this nameless one ? And why do none of the other legends refer to him ? 
He left behind him a good name, for Celano describes him approvingly : pium 
ac simplicem spirihim gereiis. Is Celano referring to the poor man whom 
Francis took to bless him against his father's curses ? or was he one who 
tarried awhile and then went away ? It is impossible to decide. 

" Gelano evidently implies this by his use of the phrase " ad mercandum 
regnwn coeloruvi" (I Celano, 24). Such conceits of language were dear to 
the chronicler. 


the night with him.' Partly out of reverence for his guest 
and partly the better to observe his ways, Bernard had a bed 
prepared for Francis in his own chamber. When the time 
came they would both retire to rest, but Bernard only feigned 
to sleep, being awake with his thoughts. And so he learned 
something of the secret of Francis' life. For after a shore 
sleep, Francis would quietly rise and give himself to prayer, 
often in his fervour unburdening his soul in murmured praises 
of God and the Blessed Virgin. And Bernard, listening, 
would say to himself: " Truly this man comes from God ". 

At length one evening Bernard said to Francis: "What 
should a man do for the best if having for many years held 
property of his lord, he now had no wish to retain it any 
longer? " Francis replied that he ought to return it to the 
lord. "Then," said Bernard, " I wish for the love of God 
and my Lord Jesus Christ, to dispose of all my temporal 
goods which the Lord has conveyed to me, as it may 
seem best to thee." And Francis answered: "In the early 
morning we will go to the church and from the book of 
the Gospels we will get to know what the Lord taught His 
disciples to do ". 

Meanwhile Peter Cathanii, who had studied in the schools 
of Bologna and was a doctor of laws, had also felt the stirring 
of the spirit, and like Bernard had taken counsel of Francis, 
and in some way placed himself under his guidance, as a 
scholar under his master. And Francis was glad that a man 
of the schools should thus be drawn to the simple ways of 
evangelical poverty, and he had a great reverence for one who 
was at once learned and God-fearing : he himself being but 
little versed in letters. 

'The house of Bernard da Quintavalle is still shown in the Via Sbaraglini 
near the Bishop's palace. 


So when, at daybreak, Francis and Bernard set out, they 
called for Peter, and together the three came to the church 
of St. Nicholas in the great square. i The book of the Gospels 
lay near the altar that all might read who cared. But neither 
Francis nor Bernard were scholars, and Peter, though he 
might be learned in law, had no aptness in the knowledge of 
Scripture: and they were all puzzled to know where in the 
book they might find the teaching suited to their need. So 
Francis knelt before the altar and prayed God to show them 
His Will in the opening of the book. Then he took the book 
and opened it and his eyes fell upon this passage from the 
Gospel of St. Matthew: "If thou wouldst be perfect, go, 
sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt 
have treasure in heaven ; and come follow Me ". A second 
tune he opened the book and read this from St. Luke : 
" Take nothing for your journey', neither staff nor scrip nor 
bread nor money, neither have two coats". Then opening 
the book a third time, he came again upon St. Matthew's 
gospel at these words : "If any man will come after Me, let 
him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me ".^ 
At this, Francis turned gleefully to his companions : 
" Brothers," he exclaimed, " this is our life and rule for our- 
selves and for all who will join our company. Go, there- 
fore, and fulfil the word you have heard." So the two 
neophytes went off, Bernard to sell all his substance, which 
was great, and Peter to dispose of his more modest property.* 

'It 13 now the caseina for the constabulary : but the altar-table, loug 
ainoe removed, is preserved in the Cathedral, being inserted into an altar in a 
Bide chapel to the right of the choir. 

matt. XIX. 21; Luke ix. 3; Matt. xvi. 24. 

'3 Soc. 27-29; I Celano, 24-25; II Celano, 15; Leg. Mnj. iii. 3. 
Neither Celano nor St. Bonaventure associate Peter with Bernard in this in- 
cident. I Celano says Peter came immediately after Bernard: Statim autein 


A few days later, it was the 16th day of April, there was 
a gathering of all the poor of Assisi in the Piazza San 
Giorgio: ' and Bernard, who had sold his goods, was giving 
the money into their hands. Francis was assisting at the 
distribution and singing aloud his praises of God. Not a 
few of the citizens were there too, looking on at this strange 
deed and amazed at such recklessness. In the crowd that 
gathered was a priest, by name Sylvester, who at one time 
had given Francis stones for the rebuilding of the churches. 
He came forward now, seeing so much money going 
a-begging, and addressing Francis, exclaimed : " Brother, you 
did not pay me well for those stones ; give me now a share 
of this money ". " Thou shalt have thy due, sir priest," 
Francis replied smiling ; and taking two handfuls of coins 
trom Bernard's cloak, he gave them to the priest, and 
then another two handfuls. "Art satisfied?" he asked: 
and Sylvester muttering that he was now well paid, went 

That day and for days afterwards there was much discus- 
sion whenever men met in the city streets or in their homes 
about this wholesale casting away of one's property by so 
notable a citizen as the wealthy Bernard da Quintavalle.^ 

But Francis with Bernard and Peter had gone out to the 

etc. The account given in 3 Soo, is, however, probably authentic; and it 
is to be noticed that whereas I Celano mentions only one opening of the book, 
II Celano mentions the three openings as in 3 Soc. Probably Bernard 
was the first to approach Francis with a view to joining him ; even 3 Soc. 
gives Bernard the first place amongst the three companions. 

' Vita B. Fratris ^gidii [ed. Lemmens], 1, in Documenta Antiqua, i. 
(Quaracchi), p. 38. It is now the Piazza Santa Ghiara, since the church of 
Santa Chiara was built over and beside the church of San Giorgio. 

^8 Soo. 30; 11 Celano, 109; Actus S. Franc, i. 38-40. 

'Cf. Vita B. Fr. ^Egidii, loc. cit. ; Cum audirel a guihusdam consangrmeii 
et ab aliis, etc, 



retreat of the Porziuncola : ^ and Francis was happy because 
the Lord had given him true friends and companions. 

Eight days later came Giles. He too was a native of 
Assisi but a man neither of birth nor wealth, being the son 
of a small farmer or husbandman. But what he lacked in 
worldly estate was made good to him in the refinement and 
nobility of his mind. He was much given to dweUing in his 
own thoughts, and was for ever peering into the soul-world : 
and he had a shrewd judgment and ready wit. In after years, 
when his fame had gone abroad, learned men flocked to him 
to gather some pithy word of wisdom, and the men of the 
schools grew careful how they challenged his satn-e and 
piercing common sense. Even the great Bonaventure re- 
vered him as a master m the science of the soul." 

His coming to Francis was typical of the sagacious sim- 
plicity of his character. When Bernard was distributing his 
wealth on the Piazza San Giorgio, Giles was very hkely at 
his work in the fields, and it was only from his kinsfolk and 
acquaintances that he heard the gossip of the day. But the 
story Idndied his imagination and desire, and he there and 

13 Soo. 32, says distinctly that Francis and his two comi^anions went 
to the Porziuncola, where Celano tells us Francis had begun to dwell con- 
stantly (cf. I Celano, 21). Francis was also dwelling at the Porziuncola 
about the time that Morico of the Crutched Friars joined him. The phrase 
of St. Bonaventure in Leg. Mnj. iv. 8 ; " cum oho accfpto de lampade qum 
coram Yirgmis ardebat altari," I imagine refers to the altar in the chapel of 
the Porziuncola. 

^Concerning Bro. Giles cf. Fr. Paschal Robinson, The Golden Sayinqs 
of Brother Oiks; P. Gisbert Menge, Der ScUgc JSg,dms von Assui. His 
legend has been published by Lemmens in Doc. Antiq^w. Franciscana, Pars 
I ; and in Analecta Franc, tom. in. p. 74 seq. Cf. De Gonform,t in Anal 
Franc, iv. pp. 205-13. An Italian version of the legend is found in most 

Sf r.;:f; st";-- "':f^"" ^- ^^'-^^^ -« ^-^'^^'-^ 4"^' Bonit 

ists , Ada 55. 23 Apnhs, p. 227 s.j. ; and in Anal. Franc, iv. p. 214 scq. 


then determined to seek out Francis and ask to be taken into 
his company. On the feast of St. George he went to an early 
mass at the Martyrs' church, thinking perhaps that Francis 
would be there ; and not finding him at the church he set 
out to seek him at the Porziuncola, where he was told Francis 
now dwelt. The chapel in the wood was unknown to him, 
and he knew not its location ; but he went out by the Via 
Francesca until he came to the cross-roads near the leper 
hospital of San Salvatore ; ^ but here he knew not which path 
to take. So he stopped and began to pray that God would 
show him the road. And whilst he was praying Francis 
came out of the wood near by. Then Giles, thanking God, 
ran forward and fell upon his knees, saying simply : " Brother 
Francis, I want to be with you for the love of God ". 

Quick to read souls, Francis recognized at once a true 
companion, and his heart went out to him in brotherly ten- 
derness. " Knowest thou," asked Francis, "how great a 
favour the Lord has given thee ? If, my brother, the em- 
peror came to Assisi and wished to choose one of the citizens 
to be his knight or chamberlain, many are they who would 
come forward to claim the honour. How much more highly 
then shouldst thou esteem it to be chosen by the Lord from 
out of so many, and to be called to His court." And bend- 
ing over him, Francis hfted up the kneeling man and took him 

'Where the Casa Gualdo now stands. M. Sabaticr {^'ie di S. Fran<;ois, 
p. 66) implies that Giles did not know where Francis dwelt, and from this 
draws the conclusion that Francis at this time had no fixed abode. But the. 
Vita B. Fr. ^gidii, loc. cit., says expressly that Giles "directed his steps t<j 
the Church of St, Mary of the Porziuncola . . . whkhplace Brother Giles did 
not know ". Giles evidently had no doubt as to where St. Francis was to bo 
found, only he did not know the way. The leper hospital of San Salvatore 
was served by the Gruoigeri, an order of nursing brothers which was widely 
extended in Italy and in Latin possessions in the East. Of. Bfrjistres de Grc- 
goire IX, Luc. Auvray, no. 209, p. 123. 

5 * 


at once to the Porziuncola and introduced him to Brother 
Bernard. " See what a good brother the Lord has sent us," 
exclaimed Francis: and then they had their first meal to- 
gether, eating and conversing merrily.^ When they had 
eaten, Francis took Giles into the city to procure him a habit 
like to his own. The novice marched along in great content 
of soul ; but the awe and reverence of the day were upon him. 
They met a poor woman on the road who cried out for an alms. 
Francis having nothing he could give, passed on silently ; but 
still the woman pleaded. Giles was troubled, being wishful 
to give the woman something, yet waiting to receive the word 
from Francis. At the third pleading, Francis turned to him 
sweetly and said : " Let us give this poor woman thy cloak " : 
and Giles in great gladness took off his cloak and gave it, and in 
the giving felt so deep a comfort of spirit as no words could ex- 
press. The same day Francis gave him the livery of Poverty : 
and that was Giles' second great happiness in one day.^ 
Exactly in what order the other disciples came in these 
first days it is impossible to say.^ One there was, Phihp 

1 Vita B. Fr. JEgidii, loc. cit. pp. 39-40. 

"■ Ibid., pp. 40-1 ; An07i. Perus in Acta SS. i October, Vol. II, p. 587 ; of. 3 
Soc. 44. 

' It is clilTicult to reconcile the order of the first companions given in the 
legends. The 8 Soc. gives the first six as Bernard, Peter, Giles, Sabbatino, 
Morico, and John de Capella. 

So also m Anon. Ferns., Acta SS. loc. cit. p. 584. Celano puts Bernard, 
Peter, and Giles, respectively second, third, and fourth. He then speaks of 
Philip as making the brethren seven in number: but whether he includes St. 
Francis in the seven is not clear, though at first sight he seems to do so. St. 
Bonaventure, after speaking of Bernard, says tliat five other men were called, 
and thus " the number of six sons of Francis was complete ". Is he following 
Celano or the B Soc, or giving an independent account ? 

Bartholomew of Pisa in De Coiifonnit. (Anal. Franc, iv. p. 177) gives 
the order thus; Bernard da Quintavalle, Peter Cathauii, Giles Sabbatiuo 
Morico, John do Capella, Philip the Long, John da S. Oostanzo, Bavbaro, 
Bernard de Viridante, Angelo Tancredi, Sylvester. 


sumamed " the Long," whose eloquence in after years was 
such that it was said of him : "the Lord touclied his hps 
with a cleansing fire, that he might speak of God in most 
sweet and honeyed words ; and although he had not studied 
the Holy Scriptures in the schools, yet did he so understand 
and interpret them, that he became a true disciple of those 
whom the princes of the Jews alleged to be simple and un- 
lettered ".^ Another was that Sylvester the priest whom we 
have met at the distribution of Bernard's wealth. 

The part he took on that occasion might hardly mark 
him out for a future companion in the Court of Poverty. 
But at heart Sylvester was not ungenerous ; and his life was 
blameless. He was of those who approved of Francis' zeal 
in repairing the churches ; but at first he much doubted the 
wisdom of his consorting with beggars and his total disregard 
of the conventions of ordinary society : to him it seemed a 
tempting of Providence or a young man's wilfulness ; ^ and 
perhaps too he did not approve of lay-evangelists : often in- 
deed they became fire-brands and heretics. So when he saw 
the money a-going in foolish recklessness he saw no reason 
why he should not have his own in payment for the stones 
he had formerly given. And yet being a man of some spirit- 
uality, in spite of himself, he grew ashamed when Francis 
so freely poured the money into his hands ; and when he 
went home his soul was troubled ; nor could he banish the 
sense that this reckless generosity was more akin to the 
spirit of Christ than was his own prudence in which he began 
to detect a latent love of money such as he himself perhaps 
had frequently upbraided in the lives of others. Then one 

' I Celano, 25; Actus S. Franc. 'i. 6. Concerning Philip the Long, cf. 
Chron. Jordani in Anal. Franc, i. p. 5. 
2 Leg. Maj. iii. 5. 


night he had a dream. It seemed to him that a huge dragon 
was surrouDding the city and threatening it with destruc- 
tion ; but whilst he was trembhng for the result, Francis 
appeared, and from his mouth there came a golden cross 
which reached to the heavens and extended on each side to 
the hmits of the earth : and the dragon seeing this, was afraid 
and fled away. Three nights that same dream came to him 
and Sylvester could no longer hesitate to take it as a warning 
from God. He sought out Francis and related his dream, 
and not long afterwards he joined the company.' He became 
a lover of solitude, giving himself much to contemplation 
and prayer. 

Of the remaining first neophytes, one, Morico by name, 
came from the leper hospital of San Salvatore. He was of the 
nursing brotherhood of the Crucigeri : .whom Francis had 
tended in a sickness.^ Another was from Bieti : his name 
was Angelo Tancredi and he was a most courteous and gentle 
knight in the world before he became a knight of Poverty.^ 
Then there was Barbaro, who some years afterwards went 
with Francis ou a missionary journey to the East ; * and yet 
another whose name became a warning to the brethren, for 
he turned recreant in the end and came by a bad end : he 
was John de Capella, a man who loved novelties and his 
own will.^ 

' Leg. Maj. iii. 5 ; 3 Soc. 31 ; II Celano, 109 ; Actus S. Franc, i. 41-43. 

2 3 Soo. 35; Leg. Maj. iv. 8. Of. De Conformit. in Anal. Franc, iv. p. 59, 
et passim. 

^Cf. Spccidmn Perfcctionis [ed. Sabatier], cap. 85, p. 167. 

^De Conformit. in Anal. Franc, iv. p. 177. Of. II Celano, 155; Spec. 
Perfect, cap. 51. 

= 3 Soc. 35. Of. Actus S. Franc, i. 3; xxxv. 10. De Conformit. in 
Anal. Franc, iv. pp. 494, 178, 440, 193. Some authors thinlc him the same 
as John de Compello, mentioned in Ohron. Jordani, A7ial. Franc, i. p. 5. 

TSE bEgInKing oE a New feateenity n 

Thus, within a few months from the day he changed his 
habit, did Francis find himself the leader of a small group of 
disciples. They had come to him without his seeking, drawn 
by a kinsliip of spirit. But as each came it was to him a 
new joy ; for he saw in their coming the beginning of a world 
regained to the Lord Christ and the Lady Poverty. 



Events had moved rapidly since that day of St. Mathias, and 
still more rapidly since the morning when Bernard had dis- 
tributed his goods to the poor in the Piazza San Giorgio : just 
as after the pause in the springtime the hedges suddenly ex- 
pand in a tumult of bloom. From a recluse, Francis had 
been transformed into an apostle : he was nov7 the leader of a 
knightly company of holy poverty. The zeal of an apostle 
was upon him, urging him to carry his good news abroad and 
win souls to his Lord's allegiance. Hardly had Bernard, 
Peter, and Giles put on their vesture of poverty than Francis 
must lead them out to fulfil their mission. Himself and 
Giles took a road which led across the mountains into the 
March of Ancona : the destination of the other two is not 
recorded. As Francis went along he sang in a loud voice iu 
the Proveufal tongue, of the goodness of God Most High : so 
gleeful and joyous he was in his love of poverty. Already he 
beheld this company of the Lady Poverty, like a goodly order 
of knighthood, being filled with generous souls and traversing 
the world with its message of penance and love and peace. 
" This order of ours," he said to Giles, " is like unto a fisher- 
man who casts his net into the water and takes in an abun- 
dant draught of fish; and he casts back the small fish into 
the water and chooses the large ones for his baskets." And 



Giles knew what he would signify : that only the generous 
and large-hearted were fitted for this new life. They did not 
preach any formal discourse, but as they passed through the 
walled villages and cities they stopped when they met the 
people, and Francis exhorted them in homely simple words 
to fear and love God- and do penance for their sins : and Giles 
standing aside would quickly urge the people to listen to 
Francis' words, for that he was a man who spoke well. Often 
enough the villagers and townsmen were in no mood to 
listen : they had no wish to be preached at, and grew im- 
patient of these strangers. Some looked upon them as poor 
fools ; others, as fanatics. Others again shook their heads and 
were frankly at a loss how to take them, like him who was 
heard to remark: "either they are saints or they are stark mad". 
Their unusual dress and vmkempt appearance frightened 
some : yoang women seeing them approach, would run quickly 
away, thinking them wizards or men with an evil eye, who 
would cast a spell upon them. Altogether the journey seemed 
fruitless of any good result ; but Francis was never one to 
bargain for results : he went as his faith urged him leaving 
results to follow in God's own time. A loyal knight must 
follow the quest, not reckoning the consequences of his toil 
so much as the duty to undertake it. Thus Francis and 
Giles toured the March of Ancona and then returned to the 
Porziuncola.^ It was then that Sabbatino, Morico, and John 
de Capella, all men of Assisi, joined the company. Their 

1 3 Soo. 33. No other legend mentions this journey into the March 
of Ancona ; but there is no reason to doubt its authenticity. True, Celano 
(I Celano, 28) relates the similitude of the fisherman in connexion with later 
incidents ; but it is evident that Celano in this place is not following a chrono- 
logical order, but is simply summing up the events which happened in the 
days before the approbation of the Bule, with a view to set forth St. Francis' 
spirit of prophecy. 


coming was made remarkable by an upheaval of feelmg on 
the part of the citizens against Francis and his brethren. At 
first the novelty of a reputable citizen like Bernard da Quin- 
tavalle, distributing all his wealth to the poor, had been an 
excitement not to be quickly laughed down. After all if two 
or three men care to act in the teeth of common sense and 
play the saint, what did it matter ? It was but an interlude 
in the serious business of life. Their relatives naturally would 
resent such doings, but one or two families do not make the 
city. And then in some vague indefinite way that wholesale 
renouncement of Bernard had touched the conscience of the 
people. The appeal to the Gospel, so dramatically enacted 
under their very eyes, for the moment silenced the prudence 
of the world and inclined the Assisians to worship. Love of 
an excitement, reverence and cyaicism all went to make the 
city tolerant. But when, as the days went on, the movement 
lost its first novelty and stage-illusion and the citizens began 
to feel its presence in their daily life, as a thing asserting 
itself in their very homes and making a demand not only on 
their emotion but also on their conscience, a reaction took 
place. Here were men putting new ideas into the minds of 
one's acquaintances and relatives, at variance with the ac- 
cepted order of things ; which ideas were making themselves 
subtly felt at inconvenient moments, keeping one man away 
from the riotous feast, detaching another from a family feud, 
and everywhere creating an element of hesitation and doubt 
in society. x*Lnd soon it began to be said in the city that it 
was all very well for men to give their own property to the 
poor, but it was monstrous to expect the citizens afterwards 
to support them. The clamour broke loose when Sabbatino 
and the other two went to swell the number of these new mendi- 
cants. The citizens now stoutly refused to give them any- 


thing. Francis entering the city to beg, was received with 
insults and sarcasm. Had he been less sure of his mission 
this moment might have been fraught with irreparable 
mischief. The malcontent citizens had a show of reason in 
their clamour. He was taking men from their families and 
civic duties and casting them penniless and homeless upon 
the world ; wasting the family inheritance and ixiaking his 
associates a burden to the people from whose midst they had 
gone out. To the man in the street it was surely idealism 
run mad. At this juncture even those who had hitherto stood 
by Francis, began to doubt and counsel compromise. He was 
letting loose a flood he might not be able to direct. It was 
time to pause and consider whither things were moving. 

The bishop sent for Francis, and counselled him to 
reconsider his way of life. It seemed hardly prudent, the 
bishop urged, to gather men together without any provision 
for their bodily needs. To practise poverty was all quite 
right : but the monks did that and yet had means to live 
upon. What if the people refused to support him by their 
alms? Must they die of starvation? And how could a 
number of men live without a house of their own ? 

It was a difficult moment for Francis. Bishop Guido had 
been his friend and counsellor from the beginning and had 
shielded him in time of distress : and in his heart Francis 
was deeply grateful. Yet not for an instant did he hesitate. 
"My lord," he replied, "if we keep property we shall need 
arms to defend ourselves and we shall be continually involved 
in litigation and feuds ; and this will oftentimes prevent us 
from loving God and our neighbour : therefore do we desire 
to possess no temporal goods in this world." The reply 
struck home ; for none knew better than Bishop Guido how 
the temporalities of churches and abbeys were a constant and 


increasing cause of trouble between the clergy and the people, 
and between the clergy themselves. His own episcopate was 
marred by frequent and acrimonious quarrels over property 
with the commune and the religious bouses in his diocese.^ 
So he refrained from urging his counsel, convinced perhaps in 
his heart that God was here working in new ways, the re- 
veahng of which must be left to time. Francis therefore re- 
turned to his waiting brethren, with his liberty intact and 
with the bishop's blessing if not with his unreserved ap- 

During the next few months the brethren fashioned 
themselves in the spirit and exercises of their vocation 
without any notable incident breaking the even tenor of 
their lives. It can hardly be said that they had a home in 
the ordinary sense of the word ; but the Porziuncola was 
their retreat and meeting-place and there they had a small 
temporary shelter which Francis had built in the first days 
when Bernard and Peter and Giles came to him.^ 

Their days were spent in the service of others. If they 
were not on a journey bearing witness to the Gospel, they 
were tending the lepers in the hospitals or assisting the 
farmers in the fields or doing other menial service in return 
for their food.* Before the day's toil began there was the labour 
of the night : the service of the spirit alone in its communion 
with God. For after a few hours' sleep, whilst yet the world 
slept on, they rose and gave themselves to prayer, the inti- 

'Cf. Horoy, Honorii III oxjera, torn i. col. 163, 200. 

23 Soc. 35. 

33 Soo. 32; " Et fecenmt ibi unam domunculani in qua aliquando 
pariler ynorarentur ". 

* Oonoeraing the primitive life of the friars, of. I Gelauo, 39-il sea. ; 
3 Soc. 36-44 ; S]pec. Perfect, cap. 55 ; Vita B. Fr. ^ligidii, pp. 41-3 ; De 
Conformit. in Anal. Franc, iv. 207-20. 


mate prayer oE the heart. At these times they drew as nigh 
as they could to the eternal mysteries, searching out their 
own moral weaknesses and strengthening themselves in the 
hope and comfort which was given them. They were but 
mortal men and none knew it better than themselves. They 
had launched out into the deep at the word of the Master 
and bravely they were holding on their course, but often it 
was with a fear at their heart lest they should fail. 

The more the nobility of their calling came home to their 
understanding, the more acutely they felt their several weak- 
nesses. There was Brother Bernard who was constantly 
trembling for fear of his own constancy ; - Brother Peter was 
liable to hesitations of worldly prudence ; ^ nor was Giles, 
the mystic, immune from the attractions of the earth. ^ 
Each had his own particular care and moral danger-pomt 
against which they must strengthen their souls. But when 
they were with men, even their own brethren, they seldom let 
any sign of their soul's struggle appear, at least not in any 
mark of sadness or weariness. Such knowledge as they 
had of each other's struggle came to them by their mutual 
sympathy and fraternal understanding or in the personal aloof- 
ness with which men seek counsel concerning their innermost 
need. But the gladness and peace which they possesed abun- 
dantly, notwithstanding their several temptations, they shared 
freely. They were bound to each other not only by their 
common faith in Poverty but by a strong mutual affection, 
such as comes to men who are wholly and simply given to 
a common faith and who have no interest which can separate 
them from each other. Great was their joy when after being 
parted from each other by reason of some journey, they 

'CI. II Celano, 48. ■^lhid.,01. 

'Ct. De Conformit. in Aiml. Franc, iv. p. 209 ob passim. 


came together again. At such times, says one who knew 
them, "they were filled with such gladness and rejoicing 
at again beholding each other, that they remembered nought 
of what they had suffered from evil men ".i Perhaps the 
opposition they met with in the world, made them the more 
appreciative of each other's welcome. 

Amongst them all Francis was as the angel of the house, 
ever watchful to assist and encourage each in his peculiar 
need as well as to direct the common purpose. He was 
gifted with a noble watchfulness for those who depended 
upon him,^ and the brethren confided in him with unhesi- 
tating simplicity, revealing to him their inmost thoughts and 
temptations : but oftentimes they had no need to speak, so 
well he read their souls. 

And as it was when they were at home with Francis in 
their retreat at the Porziuncola, so too was it when they were 
sent on a journey into a neighbouring district to bear witness 
to the Gospel they had received. AVherever they went they 
had a care for the lepers they met on the way ; they shared 
the labour of the poor ; sought shelter at night in outhouses or 
in the servants' quarters or in the porches of houses or 
churches ; ^ begged their bread from door to door when they 
did not receive it in return for their work ; exhorted men to 
good living and God-loving ways : but they would seek out 
solitary places for their hours of prayer. One thing the 
brethren on these journeys would often miss, the joy and 
encouragement of Francis' presence. Not infrequently they 
were taken for fools or knaves and treated accordingly. At 

>3 Soc. 41. 

^"Felici semper ciiriosilnfe in subditis fercbatur " is Hio inimitable phrase 
of Celano (I Celano, 51). 

»3 Soo. 38; Anmi. Perus, loc. oit. p. 584. 


such times they called to mind the teaching of Francis, and re- 
flecting on the sufferings of Jesus Christ, nerved themselves 
to patient meekness. And this came the more readily to 
them, because under the inspiration of Francis their daily 
life had become to them very vividly a vs^alking in the com- 
pany of their Divine Master. The Gospel story was to them 
not a far-off history but an ever-present event, a world-life 
in which they themselves were partakers. Its actuality 
lay all around them : by faith they saw the whole earth 
gathered about the Person of the Christ. When people 
treated them kindly they instinctively passed on the kindness 
to Him who was their Life ; when they suffered unkindness, 
they took it as He would take it. They looked upon the 
world in the light of His purity and loving compassion ; they 
were conscious of His Love for all living things as His own 
proper domain ; and sin grieved them because of the injury it 
was to Him. And since they were His servants and heralds, 
their thought was to share His burden of the world's re- 
demption. In this preoccupation of mind and heart they 
came to lose the manners and habits of the world they had 
left, and their speech and action as well as their thought 
and desire became of a piece with their soul's purpose. 
Francis strove hard that it should be so with them, for he 
knew that only so could they find the joy of the life they had 

Thus the summer days had passed and the restful autumn 
time, in practises of prayer, self-discipline, and active service 
for their fellow-men, and it was now winter,' when Francis, 

'The period o£ the year for the incidents which follow in the text, is de- 
termined by the stories told of the journey of Brothers Bernard and Giles in 
3 Soc. 39-40 (of. " licet esset magnus frigus," etc.) and in Vita B. Fr. jEgidil, 
loo. oit. p. 41 : "io quo itinere ■ . . frigus et tribulationem perpessua est". 


impelled by the spirit, called the brethren together and pro- 
posed a long quest into distant parts. Another companion 
had meanwhile joined them and they were therefore eight in 

The brethren were gathered together, probably in the 
chapel ot the Porziuncola, ready to take their departure, 
when Francis addressed them, a peculiar tenderness in his 
voice as of a father looking upon his sons going forth to seek 
their fortunes and that of their house, in the world. It was 
to be the widest journey they had yet undertaken. In that 
quick burning way of his, he spoke to them of the Kingdom 
of God of which, as sons of Poverty, they had become heirs. 
He besought them never to let their heart's desire get en- 
slaved to the transitory things of the present, but to keep 
their mind's eye fixed upon the things eternal. Then he 
reminded them that they were called unto this manner of 
life not for their own sakes alone but for the saving of the 
world ; wherefore it behoved them to go forth, admonishing 
men by word and example to do penance for their sins and 
observe the commandments of God. They were to be gentle 
and patient, putting their trust in their heavenly Father, and 
not to be afraid because they were simple and lowly and de- 
spised by men ; for the Spirit of God would speak in them. 
"You will find some," he went on to say, "who will be 
believing, gentle and gracious, who will receive you and youi 
words with joy ; but others, and these the greater part, will 
be unbelieving, proud and blasphemous ; they will revile and 
resist you : and against these you shall speak.' Set it there- 
fore in your hearts to bear all things patiently and humbly. 
Go forth, therefore, my most beloved, two and two unto all 
parts of the earth, announcing peace and invitin" to penance 

' i.e. thoir admonitions will be to these a judgment ao'l warning 


and the remission of sins. To those who question you, make 
answer humbly ; bless those who persecute you ; give thanks 
to those who injure and calumniate you, for because of these 
things an eternal kingdom is prepared for you. " When he 
had finished speaking, the brethren came one by one and 
knelt before him asking his blessing, and as he gave his 
blessing to each in turn, he bent down and lifted the brother 
up and embraced him, saying: "Cast thy burden upon the 
Lord and He will sustain thee".' 

At that the little company parted, going two and two to 
north and south and east and west. Francis and his com- 
panion went south to the valley of Eieti,^ where in winter the 
snows lie thickly on the mountain tops : and of what befell 
them there, we shall shortly hear. Brothers Bernard and 
Giles were destined for Spain, where they purposed to visit 
the shrine of the apostle St. James at Compostella.^ Of the 
destination of the others there is no record. 

Of this journey of the brethren we are told : " When the 
brethren came upon a church or a cross, they bowed in prayer 
and said devoutly : ' We adore Thee, Christ, and we bless 
Thee in all Thy churches that are in all the world, for that 
by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world ' ; * for they 
believed they had come upon a dwelling place of the Lord * 

1 3 Soo. 36 ; I Gelano, 29 ; Leg. Maj. iii. 7. 

^Wadding, Annales, ad an. 1209. 

»I Gelano, 30 ; Viia B. Fr. ^gidii, loo. cifc. 

* Gelano says they said this prayer together with the Pater Noster, since 
they were as yet ignorant of the Divine Office (I Gelano, 45). The Pribourg 
codex of the Liber de Laudibus says the brethren recited three Paters for 
each hour of the olifice, and it adds that Francis made this rule in order not to 
impede private and mental prayer. Of. Bern, a Bessa, Lib. de Laudibiis, ed. 
Hilarinus a Lucema, p. 9, n. 1 ; Wadding, Annales, ad an. 1210. 

*So 1 translate " locum Domini," in accordance with mediaeval monastic 



wherever they found be it only a cross. All who saw them 
marvelled exceedingly, for that in habit and manner of life 
they were unlike all others and seemed like men from the 
hills. Into whatsoever place they entered, were it a city or 
walled town or a farm or a house, they brought the message 
of peace, encouraging all to fear and love the Creator of 
heaven and earth and keep His commandments. Some 
heard them gladly ; others, contrariwise, mocked them, and 
by many they were asked whence they came and of what 
Order they were. And although it was toilsome to answer 
so many questions, they nevertheless in simplicity acknow- 
ledged that they were penitents, natives of the city of Assisi : 
for as yet their Order was not confirmed as a rehgion.^ 
Many thought them deceivers or fools, nor would they receive 
them into their houses lest being thieves they might by 
stealth carry off their goods. Wherefore in many places, after 
injuries had been done them, they would shelter in the porches 
of churches or houses." '■' 

This description of the reception of the brethren on their 
journeys finds its echo in the records of many journeys to 
come, as we shall have occasion to note in the course of this 
history. The friars did not at once become the heroes of the 
people amongst whom they appeared. The chronicler just 
quoted then goes on to tell of what befell Brothers Bernard 
and Giles in the city of Florence, to which city they had 
come on their way to Spain. " About this time two of these 
[brethren] were at Florence, and they went through the city 
begging for a lodging, yet could find none. Now coming 
to a certain house which had an oven in the porch they said 

^ " Religio " in mediaeval language signifies a form of religious life ap- 
proved by the Church, 
23S00. 37-8. 


one to the other; 'Hero we might take shelter'. They 
therefore besought the mistress of the house to receive them 
within the house, and when she refused they said humbly that 
at least she might permit them to rest that night near the 
oven. This she granted ; but when her husband came and 
found them in the porch, he called his wife and said to her : 
' Wherefore hast thou granted these ribalds shelter in our 
porch ? ' she replied that she had been unwilling to receive 
them into the house but had allowed them to lie outside the 
porch where they could steal nothing but the firewood. The 
husband therefore would not allow that any shelter should be 
given them, although the cold was very great, since he took 
them to be ribalds and thieves. So all that night until the 
morning they lay near the oven, sleeping lightly enough ; 
warmed only by heat divine and covered only by the sheltec 
of Lady Poverty : and then they went to the nearest church 
to hear the morning office. 

"When day had come, the woman went to the same 
church, and seeing there those brethren devoutly continuing 
in prayer, she said within herself : ' Were these men ribalds 
and thieves as my husband said, they would not thus con- 
tinue reverently in prayer '. And whilst she was pondering 
thus, behold a man named Guido was bestowing alms upon 
the poor who were waiting in that church, and when he 
came to the brethren and would give them both money, as he 
gave the others, they refused the money and would not take 
it. But he said to them : ' Wherefore do you, bemg poor, not 
take money as do the others ? ' Brother Bernard replied : 
' It is true that we are poor ; but poverty is not a hard thing 
to us as it is to these other poor; for by God's grace. Whose 
counsel we have fulfilled, we have made ourselves poor of 
our own accord'. At this the man marvelled, and asking 

6 * 


them if they had ever possessed anything, he learned from 
them that they had had much property but for the love of 
God had given all to the poor . . . Wherefore the said woman, 
pondering how that the brethren would not take the money, 
went to them and said that she would gladly receive them into 
her house, if they would come thither for the sake of being her 
guests. To whom they humbly answered : ' The Lord repay 
thee for thy goodwill '. But the aforesaid man, hearing that 
the brethren had not been able to find a lodging, brought them 
into his house, saying : ' Behold here a lodging made ready 
for you by the Lord ; abide therein according to your good 
pleasure ' ; and they giving thanks to the Lord, remained with 
him some days, edifying him both by example and by word 
in the fear of the Lord, so that afterwards he bestowed much 
of his wealth upon the poor." ^ Of Brother Giles this also is 
told, that meeting a poor man on the way he was struck with 
pity at his scanty clothing, and having only one tunic of his 
own, he gave the man his hood, and himself went hoodless 
for twenty days, suffering much from the cold.^ 

Francis, as we have said, went to the mountain valley of 
Rieti, which lies to the south beyond the valley of Spoleto : ^ 
and here there came to him a wonderful grace. Ever since 
his conversion from the world there had been a mist in his 
joy whenever he thought of the neglected years which had 
gone before ; and this sorrow had become more and more 

^3 Soo. 39-40. I have omitted, as not needful to this narrative, a pas- 
sage in which occurs these words descriptive of Brother Bernard: "qui 
■prima pads et pixnitentice Ugationem amplectens, post sanctum Dei cucurrit". 
Readers of Dante will recognize the source of the verses in the Divina 
Commedia, canto xi. lines 79-81. Cf. Anon. Penes, in Acta SS. loc. cit. p. 

" Vita B. Fr. JEgidii, loc. cit. p. 41. 

' Wadding, AnnaUa, ad an. 1209. 


poignant as the days went on. Indeed during these past few 
months Francis had been experiencing to the uttermost that 
self-humiliation which comes with the first consciousness of 
a high spiritual destiny. In his large unselfishness he could 
not but rejoice as the work of the Lord unfolded itself in the 
coming of his companions. At times he would sing aloud 
the praises of God in sheer gratitude and exultancy of spirit 
at the thought of the grace which was given them. Then, 
becoming conscious of himself, he would shrink back, amazed 
and fearful, oppressed with the sense of his own deficiency, 
and his eyes and heart would weep for the years when he 
might have been fitting himself for the task which God had 
laid upon him. And then there would come upon him the 
awful dread lest the misspent past should take its revenge 
and be his undoing in the end. 

In such tempest of self-abasement he found himself one 
day as he was praying in a solitude above the town of 
Poggio-Bustone, on the borders of the Abruzzi ; whither he 
had come in his tour of the country of Eieti. It is a spot 
of the earth which induces one to deep ponderings, and there 
is a certain melancholy in its high mountainous seclusion and 
the dark enclosure of the neighbouring hills.' 

In very misery Francis had cast himself upon the Divine 
mercy, repeating time after time in a broken spirit : "0 God 
be merciful to me, a sinner " ; for he yet had hope that the 
all-pitying Eedeemer would show mercy and not let His work 
be frustrated by His servant's unworthiness. But the cup 
of his humiliation that day was deep and he must drink it to 
the dregs. Then suddenly there came to him a complete 

' The grotto iu which Francis prayed is a steep climb above the town : it is 
still a place of pilgrimage. Every Easter Monday the peasantry from all the 
neighbouring villages march in procession to the grotto and hear mass there. 


and indubitable assurance tbat all his past sms were forgiven 
him, and that by God's grace he would not fail at the last ; 
and at that same time he saw as in a vision the company of 
Poverty growing into a large host and subduing the earth ; 
and he knew his quest and leadership would not be fruitless. 
At that his whole being was changed and he came from 
his prayer another man ; as one who had looked upon the 
face of God and found his peace there. 

Then was his first thought to share his joy with his 
brethren ; for he knew how they too were tried by temptation 
and how this vision of his, of the increase of their company, 
would be to them an encouragement. Thereupon he be- 
sought God to turn them all back from their journeys and 
bring them together at the Porziuncola. And it happened 
tbat at that same time all the brethren felt a drawing home- 
wards and returned ; nor did any of them know why they 
had at that particular time begun their homeward journey, 
until Francis told them of his longing for them to return and 
of his prayer. 

So they were once more gathered together when Francis 
anburdened his mind of his vision, uttering his words as one 
who has found a great joy. " ]\Iy most beloved," he said, 
"be comforted and rejoice in the Lord, and be not sad 
because you seem to be few. Neither let my simple ways, nor 
yours, affright you : for the Lord has shown me that He will 
make us to increase into a great multitude and spread abroad 
even to the ends of the earth. And that you may be en- 
couraged to advance on your way, I am compelled to tell you 
what I have seen. Kather would I be silent, but my love 
compels me to speak. I have seen a great multitude of men 
coming to us, desiring to put on the habit of our holy voca- 
tion and to live under the rule of our blessed religion, and 


their sound is in my ears as they come and go under the 
orders of holy obedience. I have seen the roads from all the 
nations fuU of men coming into these parts : the French are 
coming, the Spaniards are hastening, the Germans and Eng- 
hsh run, and great is the crowd of them who hurry along 
speaking other tongues." Then was there great joy in that 
small company, for all had caught the enthusiasm of their 
leader and his daring ambition to establish the reign of the 
crucified Eedeemer.^ There was in their ambition no thought 
of self. They loved the Lord Christ and hungered to see 
Him in His poverty and humility, the Lord of the earth ; and 
they loved their fellowmen and yearned that all should share 
the joy they themselves had found. 

But Francis, with all his enthusiasm, was already seeing 
things with the searching eye of a leader. Much as he 
rejoiced with the brethren over this coming multitude, yet he 
did not fail to see that with the crowd would come travail 
of spirit and a time of trial. Where there is a multitude it 
cannot be as with a small family united in heart and ruled by 
one single purpose. "My beloved," he said to his compan- 
ions, "in these first days of our dwelling together, it is like 
eating apples all sweet and pleasant to the taste ; a little later 
the apples offered to us will not all be so sweet and pleasant, 
and in the end some will be of such bitterness that we shall 

'I Celano, 26-7. Celauo relates the incident of St. Francis's assurance 
of forgiveness and the subsequent address to the brethren, before mentioning 
the missionary journey of the eight; but, as we have remarked before, he 
observes a chronological order in his legend, only in a very general sense. 

Wadding {Annales, ad an. 1203) accepts the tradition that the assurance 
of forgiveness came to Francis at Poggio Bustone. Celano moreover relates 
that the sudden recall of the brethren was due to a vision which Francis 
had: " Convenientibus vero in unum, de visione pii pastoris magna gaudia 
celebrant," etc., and later: " Beahis pater coepit eis suum aperire propositmii, 
etc. (I Celano, 30, 31). 


be unable to eat them, though outwardly they will look fair 
and juicy enough ": ^ which words were to prove a true 

But at present neither Francis nor the brethren were 
disturbed at any prevision of future troubles. They were 
yet living in the first absorbing wonderment of their new 

And a blessed thing too is that first wonderment which 
whilst it lasts is like the vital contentment of a perfect 
summer's day, transfusing one's dream with a palpitating 
light ; or like the satisfying infinitude of the western sky at 
sundown when the clouds have widely parted. Such wonder- 
ment is the bridal gift of a true love, whether it be the love 
of man and maid or the mystic love of the soul and its voca- 
tion. Out of that wonderment comes the joy and strength 
of life, whether in the first blithe marches of achievement or 
in the inevitable stages of hardship and disillusions through 
which the perfect faith must pass to its triumphant realiza- 
tion. Yet though his heart was not saddened nor his faith 
daunted, Francis felt the need of establishing his company in 
a greater security against the dangers to come. 

This brotherhood of Poverty was to spread over the earth ; 
it would need some definite pledge of world-wide authority 
and a definite visible allegiance symbolical of its allegiance 
to the world's Saviour. Instinctively Francis turned to the 
Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth : he should receive in 
Christ's name, the allegiance of the brotherhood and give it its 
charter and be its earthly lord and its protector against the 
evil of the world. 

Now it frequently happens that the incidents which im- 
mediately determine events fraught with great consequences 

' I Celano. 28. 


are in themselves trivial : they take their importance from the 
accumulating expectancy of a movement to which they be- 
come a sign. So Francis's decision to seek the Papal sanction 
and protection for the brotherhood was quickened by the 
coming of four new postulants. With these the company of 
Poverty numbered twelve brethren : it was the number of 
the Apostles. Now, thought Francis, they lacked but one 
thing to make them hke unto the first apostolic college ; that 
one thing being the manifest commission of Christ, which 
could be given them only by Christ's Vicar. So Francis and 
the brethren sought direction in prayer and then determined 
forthwith to set out for Eome and seek the presence of the 

The four new brethren were John of San Constanzo, 
Barbaro, Bernard de Vigilanzio ^ and the noble knight, 
Angelo Tancredi who had followed Francis from the Valley 
of Eieti.2 

1 He is variously designated as Bernard de Vigilanzio, Bernard Vigilanzo 
de Vida, and Bernard de Viridante. 

2 Wadding (Annates, ad an. 1210) tells a story of the coming of Angelo 
Tancredi which is quite in accord with the character of Francis. Meeting 
Angelo in the valley of Rieti, Francis accosted him saying : " It is a long 
time enough that you have carried the belt and sword and spurs of the world. 
Come with me and I wiU dub you a knight of the army of Christ." But the 
source of this story is the Actus S. Franc, in Valle Reatina, a fourteenth 
century compilation of doubtful authority. It has recently been edited by 
Prof. Peunaochi in Miscellania Francescana, Vol. XIII, pp. 6-21. 

POPE innocp:nt approves the rule of the order. 

The days were filled with the temperate heat and sunshine 
of early spring, and the shortening of the nights was gracious 
to the scantily clad brethren hastening to Kome. Francis was 
full of expectancy. In his hands he carried with him the 
Rule of life which he had written and which Avas to be the 
charter of his alliance with the Lady Poverty, and he was 
confident that the Pope would confirm it : for was not 
Poverty the bride of Christ in His life on earth, and how then 
could the Vicar of Christ repel her ? One night he had a 
dream and it seemed to him that he was walking along a 
road by the side of which stood a tree of noble height and 
very fair to gaze upon ; and when he went and stood beneath 
it, in wonder at its height and comeliness, of a sudden he him- 
self became so tall that he touched the top of the tree and 
bent it down to the earth quite easily.' Francis related his 
dream to the brethren, not doubting that God had sent it him 
to foreshadow the triumph of Poverty. To the eager, intense 
souls of these men everything indeed in heaven and earth 
seemed burdened with the destiny of their Lady Poverty : 
as in truth it was so far as they were concerned, so entirely 
and simply were they hers. 

As they were setting forth on their way to Rome, Francis 

> I Celauo, 33 ; 3 Soc. .53 ; Leg. Maj. m. 8. 


had insisted that the brethren should choose one of their 
number, other than himself, to be their superior on the way. 
" He shall be our captain and as it were Christ's Vicar to 
us," he said ; " so that wheresoever he shall lead, we will go 
with him ; and where he lodges we will lodge." The choice 
fell upon Bernard da Quintavalle. Then they took to the 
road, singing the praises of God as they went along or else 
conversing with each other upon the things of the spirit which 
alone seemed to them worthy of many words. At times they 
would break their journey in some retired spot and give them- 
selves to secret prayer, and when the evening drew in they 
sought shelter wherever they happened to find themselves. 
In this fashion they passed down the valley of Spoleto and 
crossed along the high plateau of Eieti and came into the 
lowlands of the Eoman Campagna and at length found them- 
selves in Eome. For most of them it was their first visit to 
the Eternal City, and doubtless with that instinct of faith 
which was so strong in the Catholic people of those days, 
their first thoughts turned to the tomb of the Apostles in the 
great church of St. Peter on the Vatican Hill : for it was this 
which made Eome a holy city and in some sense the home 
of all Christians. As the brethren passed through the streets 
the people would momentarily wonder from what province 
these strangely garbed men had come, wholly unaware that 
they were looking upon men who were shortly to set the 
whole Christian world by the ears and to be the beginning of 
a moral revolution before which even Eome must bow in 
reverent homage. But the Eomans had seen too many strange 
penitents and reformers come to their city and pass away 
again forgotten or discredited, to be deeply interested at the 
appearance of any new comers, however strange might be 
their garb or conduct. And so these twelve brethren might 


make their way through the streets until they came to St. 
Peter's without arousing any but a passing wonder. They 
themselves were too engrossed in their sacred mission and in 
their reverence for the ground they trod, to take note of the 
passers by. Nor was there such a marked temperamental 
difference between the two cities — the one they had come to 
and the other they had left — to make them feel an entire 
strangeness even had they been less absorbed in their own 
affair. The contrast between Assisi and Eome which strikes 
one so forcibly to-day was not so palpable then. The pilgrim 
who now passes from the Eternal City to the city of Umbria, 
passes from the great highway where the world jostles pain- 
fully but inevitably against the spirit, into an old-world nook 
where the spirit broods in peace over the earth. Rome stands 
to-day, as ever in its history, as a spirit strugghng with the 
world ; Assisi is as a spirit which has overcome and is now at 
rest. But in the thirteenth century Assisi was a hustling 
busjr republic with an intensely aggressive consciousness of its 
own, with its bishop's court and its senate and its market- 
place and its political parties, all very much alive and emulous 
in some measure even of the city of Rome in its institutions 
and ambitions. Life in Rome was on a larger scale, but it 
was not so different in quality or character that a citizen of 
Assisi could not easily fall in with its main preoccupations 
and habits. Even so Rome was such as to strike the ima^i- 
nation of a citizen of far greater cities than Assisi, and never 
more so than at this very period when Innocent III was 
bringing most of the Christian kingdoms into even temporal 
vassalage to the Holy See. There was no movement in the 
life of Christendom, whether in imperial or national politics, 
or in the domain of thought, or in the strictly ecclesiastical 
sphere, which was not in some way or other brought to the 


Pope's council-board ; and Innocent wieJded his growing 
authority with a noble magnificence which took account 
of the smaller things even as the greater.^ No man perhaps 
has ever been the ruler of the earth as he was ; he schooled 
kings and imposed governments on peoples, and checked 
heresy, and did all a legislator could to reform morals : and 
all these activities were manifest in the gatherings of men at 
his court. There all that was most alive in Christendom 
might be found appealing, arguing or bowing before the 
Pope's command. 

To many men Innocent III has appeared merely as an 
ambitious statesman and theocrat, whose ruling passion 
was to extend the dominion of the Papacy in temporal affairs ; 
they picture him skilfully playing off one pohtical party against 
another or subduing with his iron resolution and sweeping 
statesmanship the rebellious secular powers. But there was 
another side to the character of Innocent. He was a deeply 
rehgious man, ascetic in his personal conduct and with a 
yearning desire to purify the Christian world and make its 
peoples, socially and individually, more conformed to the law 
of Christ.^ Behind all his political ambitions for the Church 
was the aspiration to leave the Christian world purer and 
more godly than he found it ; and it can safely be said that 
he viewed the extension of the authority of the Papacy in 
temporal affairs as a means to the world's purification. He 
may have been right or wrong in thinking that temporal 
power would strengthen the Holy See for its spiritual mission ; 
about that men will argue as long as the world lasts. But 
there can be no doubt that the ultimate purpose of the great 

'Of. A. Luohaire, Innocent III: Rome et I'ltalie, p. 2.33 seq. 
- He was the author of an asoetical treatise De contemptu mundi which 
was for long in great Togue. His sermons breathe a spirit of burning piety. 


Pope was to create a theocracy of -the Christian nations under 
whose sway the Gospel would be better realized in all spheres 
of the world's life. Nobody was more conscious than himself 
that this purification must be begun in the ranks of the clergy : 
and he was not blind to the inherent strength of the reform- 
ing sects which, however troublesome they might be to the 
authorities, and even heretical as they frequently became, yet 
pointed with undeniable though bitter truth to the radical 
evil of luxury and secular greed which had fastened upon 
laity and clergy alike in the higher ranks of society.^ 

The almost utter hopelessness of the task of reform which 
he had set himself, made the sadness of his days. Yet he 
never relinquished his efforts. He chose as cardinals men of 
like mind m this matter with himself. If he fostered a 
crusade to crush by force of arms the wide-spreading sect 
of the Albigenses, it must be remembered that this sect 
was political as well as religious, and menaced established 
authority both civil and ecclesiastical. Even here Innocent 
did not trust to the secular arm alone, but endeavoured to 
arouse the monastic orders to meet the heretical movements 
in spiritual warfare by sending forth itinerant preachers in 
whom sound orthodoxy would be strengthened by a severe 
asceticism and blameless life.'^ 

' Innocent in 1201 approved the Rule of the Humiliati— an orthodox 
society which was nevertheless !^uspected by many of the bishops ; he also 
received the submission of Durandus d'Huesca in 1209 and of Bernhard 
Primus in 1210, and commissioned them to continue their preacliing. Cf. A. 
Luchaire, Innocent III : la Croisade des Albigeois, p. 105 ; Migne, Innocentii 
III Begest. Lib. XII, lxix. 

Innocents more pacific attitude of mind towards the heretics is in strik- 
ing contrast to the unsparing ferocity of some of the bishops. Of. Migne, op. 
cit. Lib. II, ccxxviii; A. Luchaire, op. oit. p. 58 seq. 

2 Innocent would gladly have avoided recourse to the secular arm, though 
when he found pacific measures unavailing, he fostered the crusade with 
characteristic energy. Cf. A. Luchaire, loc. cit. 


But the dead hand of I'ormaHsm weighed heavily upon 
the Pope's efforts to stem the tide of the heretical reforming 
movements : they grew in strength and audacity in spite of 
crusades and delegated preachers. Even within the confines 
of the Papal territories the heretics bade defiance to the Pope.^ 
The truth was that the reforming movements, whether heret- 
ical or orthodox (and they were mostly heretical or suspect) 
voiced a vital discontent which was felt by all the more spiritu- 
ally-minded Catholics, even by the Pope himself. Merely 
repressive or argumentative measures can never take away 
a vital discontent, and whilst that remains, heresy will always 
be latent or active until the discontent gives place to a new 
spiritual contentment or whittles away into sheer spiritual 

As yet the Church had not been able to put forth any 
convincing fact which would make people recognize that it 
contained within itself the satisfying truth for which the soul 
of Christendom was ahungered. What this truth was, men 
could only tell in a negative fashion : it was not found in any 
of the actual ecclesiastical institutions or tendencies which 
they saw with their eyes ; and not finding there what they 
wanted, they easily concluded that the whole ecclesiastical 
system was altogether wrong, and a mere bondage of the 
spirit. Nor could the authorized preachers, even the most 
sympathetic, convince them otherwise. These, the sym- 
pathetic preachers, might deplore the evils in the Church, 
and argue that these evils were merely the wounds which 
wicked men had inflicted upon the pure body of Christ : but 

1 Both at Viterbo and Orvieto the Patarini were strong enough to elect 
members of their sect as consuls. Of. Migne, Innocentii III Begest. Lib. II, 
1, ccvii. ; Lib. "VIII, cclviii. Cf. Ada SS. Maii, torn, v, p. 86 Sfj. A. Luch- 
aire, Imwcent III : Borne et I'ltalie, pp. 84-91. 


the wounds were visible, gaping before the common eye. 
Some held fast to the faith of the preachers, and set them- 
selves to wait prayerfully till the mystery should be cleared. 
But these were the few. Many more looked on, cynical or 
indifferent, while the preachers preached. Meanwhile the 
heretics were aggressive and made headway with the people. 
Perhaps to some of the waiting believers there came a vision of 
the prophet who was to bring freedom and joy to their souls, 
a man not tied to the traditions which hampered the liberty 
and dimmed the sight of the orthodox preachers, but one who 
with the simphcity of genius would draw forth the truth in its 
living beauty from the encasement of the traditions, and re- 
veal it to orthodox and heretic alike as the legitimate offspring 
of the Catholic Faith. But in what fashion such a one would 
appear, and how he would present himself to the world, would 
remain even to the visionaries a mystery : for no man yet has 
painted the coming dawn. 

It is quite possible that Pope Innocent had had his visions 
of the needed reformer : for Innocent was a mystic as well 
as a genius, and to both is given a liberty of mind which 
the established conventions cannot contain ; yet when the 
moment of recognition came, the Pope at first could not see 
clearly and Francis met with a rebuff. 

It was in the corridor of the Lateran palace that these 
two men first met. Pope Innocent was walking to and fro, 
his mind engrossed in his schemes, when Francis, who in his 
simplicity had thought to seek out the Pope direct, appeared 
before him and began to set forth his petition. But the 
Pope, thinking him a mere fanatic, curtly bade him begone.^ 

1 Vide the addition to the Leg. Maj. iii. 9 [ed. Quaraochi, 1898, p. 28, n. 1), 
by Jerome of Asooli. 

Jerome was St. Bonaventure's successor in the Generalate of the Ordet 


Francis went out, and shortly afterwards had the good 
fortune to meet the Bishop of Assisi, who was then on a visit 
to the Papal Court. The bishop had no knowledge of Francis' 
coming, and meeting him unexpectedly in the Eternal City, 
was at first alarmed. He thought that perhaps these peni- 
tents had quitted Assisi for good. But when Francis had 
told his purpose he at once promised his support. 

Bishop Guido knew quite well the difficulties which 
would beset Francis and his petition. One needs a friend 
at court if one is to be heard there ; and besides it was 
already being said that there were too many of these new 
penitential fraternities springing up, much to the detri- 
ment of the older monastic Orders.^ So like a prudent man 
of affairs, the bishop set himself to gain the interest of an 
influential cardinal. None, he knew, would be more likely 
to befriend these penitents of his, than the Cardinal John of 
St. Paul, Bishop of Sabina. This prelate was a man of 
saintly life, noted amongst all the reforming cardinals of 
Innocent's Court, for his personal detachment from the 
world and his spiritual mind. To him then Francis was 
now introduced. The cardinal was already well disposed, 
having heard from Bishop Guido all about the wonderful 
renunciation and zeal of this new reformer ; and he must 
have heard too of his reverence for the bishop and clergy, 
which was something unusual in the reformers of the time. 
Yet with the native conservatism of a statesman, he could 
not see why a new Order should be created : better surely 

He said lie received his Itnowledge of this incident from the Pope's nephew. 
Cf. Anal. Franc, iii. p. 365. Matthew of Paris (Hist. ed. Watts, p. 340) 
relates a curious story how the Pope, on first meeting Francis, bade him " go 
aud roll himself in the mire with the pigs". 

' Five years later the Fourth Laterau Council forbade the institution of 
new Orders. 



would it be for these men to enter an established Order : it 
would be the safer course and their fervour would help to 
bring the older Orders back to their first perfection. His 
advice, therefore, was that they should lay aside their peti- 
tion and enter a monastery. But Francis was firm — sweetly 
and humbly firm — in his conviction that God had called him 
neither to the monastic nor the eremitical life as already 
established, but to a new and simple observance of the 
Gospel. And after a few days the cardinal too was con- 
vinced. He saw in these men a spirit different from any he 
had yet observed, and he felt that here was somethmg new 
in the designs of God for the Church. With this conviction 
he determined to bring Francis into the Pope's presence, and 
to plead his cause. 

So once again Francis was at the feet of Pope Innocent ; 
but now the way had been prepared and the stern countenance 
of the great Pontiff ■wa.s intent to hear what he had to say 
for himself and his brethren. Quite simply Francis set forth 
the Eule of life he desired to follow with the Pope's sanction. 
There was a movement of dissent among the attendant 
cardinals as Francis proclaimed his purpose to live in abso- 
lute poverty without any provision for the morrow save his 
trust in God's providence and the charity of man ; to carry 
nothing on his journeys through the world nor to resist 
when an injury should be done to him ; to serve his neigh- 
bours and to work as the poor, and to eschew all power and 
authority over others. To some it appeared to WEar a danger- 
ous resemblance to the innovations of the reformers ; to all it 
seemed an impossible rule beyond human endurance, to all 
that is, except the Cardinal John of St. Paul, who rose up to 
answer the objectors. "If we reject the petition of this pooi 
man," he said, "as something novel and too hard to fulfil 


when all he asks is that the law of life of the Gospel be con- 
firmed unto him, let us beware lest we offend against the 
Gospel of Christ. For if anyone shall sa}' that in the observ- 
ance of evangelical perfection and the vow to observe it, 
there is contained anything new or irrational or impossible of 
observance, such a one is convicted of a blasphemy against 
Christ the Author of the Gospel." At that the Pope, in 
homage to the saintly cardinal, said to Francis : " My son, go 
and pray to Jesus Christ that He may show us His will ; and 
when we know His will more certainly, we shall the more 
safely sanction your pious purpose ". ^ 

It was an anxious moment for the brethren, but Francis 
was confident. " He ran trustfully to Christ and began to 
pray, bidding his brethren do the same," says the chroni- 
cler. During bis prayer this parable came to him as from 
some interior voice : A certain woman, very poor but beauti- 
ful, dwelt in a desert. And there was a king who loved her 
because of her exceeding beauty. With joy he wedded her 
and begot of her most handsome sons. Now these sons 
grew up, nurtured in all gentleness, and then their mother 
spoke to them, saying: "My dear sons, be not ashamed 
because you are poor, for you are all the sons of a great king. 
Gladly therefore go to his court and ask of him whatever is 
necessary to you." They, hearing these words, marvelled 
and were glad and being lifted up at this declaration of their 
royal lineage and knowing themselves to be heirs to the 
king, esteemed their very need as riches. Boldly they pre- 
sented themselves before the king, nor were they timid 
before the face of him whose likeness they bore. And the 
king recognizing in them the likeness unto himself, wonder- 

^ Leg. Maj. iii. 9; 3 Soc. 47-49; I Gelano, 32-33; II Celano, 16; 
Anon. Per-us. loo. cit. p. 590. 


ingly inquired whose sons they might be. They told him 
they were the sons of the poor woman who dwelt in the. 
desert. At that the king embraced them and said: "My 
sons and heirs you are : fear not. If strangers are fed at my 
table, by a greater right must I nourish them for whom all 
my possessions are lawfully kept." And afterwards the king 
gave order unto the woman that she should send to his court 
all the sons that should be born of her, that they might be 
nurtured there.^ 

With this parable on his lips, Francis presented himself at 
the next audience to which he was shortly bidden : adding as 
he finished the recital : " Holy Father, I am that poor woman 
whom God so loved and of His mercy hath so honoured ". 

Pope Innocent listened in astonishment to this trouba- 
dour in penitent's garb : it was a new experience even in his 
full life, and perhaps at that moment the light began to enter 
the Pontiff's mind and he dimly saw that what the world 
needed for its purification was the spirit of the troubadour 
converted to the service of Christ. He now felt a strange 
drawing to this man whom he had at first repulsed, and a 
dream he had once had, came back to his mind and seemed 
to him to be receiving a fulfilment in fact. He had dreamt 
that the Church of St. John Lateran, the mother church of 
Christendom, was about to fall, and a religious, small of 
stature and lowly of appearance was holding it up, by setting 
his back against it. It seemed to him now that Francis was 
the man of his dream,- and without further hesitation he 
declared his good-will and gave a verbal sanction to the Eule 
which had been laid before him. Then Francis promised 
obedience to the Pope, and when he had thus promised, the 

'II Celano, 16; 3 Soo. 50; Ley. Maj. iii. 10; Anon. Fenis, ut supra. 
» II Celano, 17 ; 3 Soo. 51 ; Leg. Maj. iii. 10. 


Pontiff bade the other brethren promise obedience to Francis. 
Thus was the Franciscan family formally constituted and 
provisionally admitted into the law of the Church : for with 
the cautiousness proper to a statesman, Innocent reserved a 
more solemn and definite approbation until such time as the 
new fraternity had proved itself. Finally, Innocent having 
thus recognized the brethren, gave them his pontifical authority 
to preach penance to the people ; that is to say, not to ex- 
pound the dogmas of the faith as did the regular preachers 
who were trained theologians, but to exhort the people to 
live well and avoid evil and love God. " Go forth with the 
Lord, brothers," he said to them, "and as the Lord shall 
deign to inspire you, do ye preach repentance unto all men. 
But when God Almighty shall have multiplied you in 
numbers and in grace, come again to me rejoicing and I wiU 
grant more unto you than this and with a greater assurance 
commit to you greater powers." ^ 

That day there was one man at the Papal court who was 
unfeignedly satisfied with the issue of the brethren's petition. 
The Cardinal John of St. Paul had, in the few days of their 
sojourn in Rome, come to hold them in great reverence and 
affection, and he purposed to take them under his particular 
protection at the Roman court, and be, as it were, a father 
under God to these poor men.^ 

1 1 Celano, 33 ; 3 Soo. 51 ; Leg. Maj. iii. 10. The preaching of 
penance was a recognized faculty in the Middle Ages and was frequently 
conceded to laymen. Such preaching implied mural exhortations, but 
excluded the expounding of the articles of faith and the sacraments. Vidi! 
Letter of Innocent III to the ministers of the Humiliati, " Incumhit nobis," 
7 June, 1201 (Tiraboschi, Vetera Eumil. Mon. ; i p. 128). Of. P. Hilar, n 
Felder, Histoire des ktudes dans I'ordre Franciscain, p. 39 seq Pope 
Innocent had commissioned the Humiliati in 1201 ; in 1209 he had given an 
even more general permission to Durandus de Huesca and Bernhard Primus, 

^ Cf . 3 Soo. 48 : " Volebat ex tunc sicut unus de fratribus repulari ". 


Before they departed he conferred upon them all the small 
tonsure,! ^j^g j^^rk of the clerical state, that thereby they 
might have the greater freedom and authority in their preach- 
ing. But in his heart there was also the desire to wed these 
joyous, humble penitents to the ecclesiastical hierarchy, as an 
example to other clerics and for the purifying of the clerical 
order itself." 

Here the reader may be curious, as many have been before 
him, to know more precisely what this Eule was which Pope 
Innocent sanctioned, and in what manner it was set forth. 
For the Kule of the Friars Minor underwent many changes 
and modifications before it was finally sealed with the solemn 
and written approbation of Pope Honorius III in 1223. 
That final Rule reflects many issues and experiences in the 
development of the fraternity, which Francis in these earlier 
years never contemplated : and in it the fine idealism of his 
aspiration is somewhat tempered by the exigencies of the 
world, as pure gold is mixed with harder metal to serve the 
uses of men. It was indeed necessary to beat out the finer, 
hei oic spirit of the founder of the fraternity with an admix- 
ture of more earthly wisdom for the multitude which gathered 
to him after the first enthusiasm had begun to wane: so only 
do the idealists retain a following whether in the Church or 
outside it. But those who love the memory of Francis will 
always turn to the early days of his story before the world 

1 " Fecit corollas parvulas fieri," says St. Bonaventure (Leg. Maj. iii. 10) : 
evidently as distinguished from the larger monastic tonsure. Even to the 
end of his days Francis refused to wear the large tonsure : of. II Celauo, 193. 
Some say that it was at this time that Francis also received the diaoonate. 
Cf. Wadding, Aniiales. ad an. 1210. 

- A similar thought was in the mind of Cardinal Ugolino later on, when 
he proposed to take the bishops from the new orders of Franciscans and Do- 
miuicaus. Cf. Spec. Perfect, [ed. Sabatier], cap. 43. 


made his spirit anxious, searching those early years with a 
wistful tenderness as men always search out the story of 

Unhappily the parchment which was inscribed with that 
early Eule seems not to have been preserved when in later 
years Francis found it necessary to rewrite his Eule with 
greater detail ; and to day they who would listen to the Eule 
which Pope Innocent blessed at the instance of the Cardinal 
John of St. Paul, must disentangle the primitive passages 
from the later accumulating additions with which they are 
conjoined in what came to be known as the " First Eule " or 
"the Eule of 1221": a compilation which grew out of the 
primitive Eule and capitular decrees and Papal ordinances and 
which Francis, with the aid of Brother Csesar of Speyer, put 
into its present form in the year 1221.^ Elsewhere in this 
book the reader will find an analysis of this compilation,^ 
setting forth the component parts in detail, but here we will 
put down those passages which unhesitatingly we may ac- 
cept as primitive. A few other regulations there may have 
been, which now we cannot determine, but they would be of 
lesser importance, for the Eule as here set down reflects 
faithfully the hfe of the first brethren as history records it ; 
and nothing in that life is lacking in the Eule : one is a 
faithful mirror of the other. 

The Primitive Eule, then, began in strict Catholic fashion 
with the invocation of the most Holy Trinity. A preliminary 
declaration promised obedience to the Pope, and then the 
Bule proper ran in this wise : — 

^This " First Rule " of 1221 must not be confused with the Rule of 1223 
above referred to. 

2 Vide Appendix I : " The Primitive Rule of St. Francis," pp. 466-476. 


The Rule and life of the brothers is this ; namely, to live in obedi- 
ence, in chastity and without property, and to follow the teaching and in 
the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ Who says : " If thou wilt be perfect, 
gOj sell whiit thou hast and give to the poor and thou shalt have treasure 
in heaven ; and come follow Me " ; ^ also : " If any man will come after Me, 
let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me " ; ^ again : " If 
any man come to Me and hate not his father and mother and wife and 
children and brethren and sisters, yea and his own life also, ha cannot 
be My disciple ; ■' and everyone that hath left father or mother, brethren 
or sisters, wife or children, houses or lands, for My sake shall receive a 
hundred-fold and shall possess life everlasting ".^ 


If anyone by Divine inspiration shall wish to receive this life and 
shall come to our brethren, let him be received kindly by them. Which 
being done, he shall sell whatever he possesses and cause it to be given 
to the poor. 

And all the brethren shall be clothed in vile garments and they cau 
patch them with sacking and other rags with the blessing of God ; for 
our Lord says in the Gospel : " They that are in costly apparel and live 
delicately and who are clothed in soft garments, are in the houses of 
Ivings ".' 

None of the brothers shall have any power or domination especially 
amongst themselves. For so the Lord says in the Gospel : " The princes 
of the gentiles lord it over them and they that are the greater, exercise 
power upon them : it shall not be so amongst the brethren ; but whoso- 
ever will be the greater amongst them let him be their minister and 
servant ; " and " he who is the gi eater amongst them let him become as 
the lesser "." Neither shall any brother do evil or speak evil unto another ; 
nay rather by the charily of the spirit shall they voluntarily serve aud 
obey each other. And this is the true and holy obedience of our Lord 
Jesus Christ. 


The brethren who know how to work, shall work and exercise the 
name craft which they know, if it be not against their soul's salvation and 
they can honestly exercise it. For the prophet says: "Because that 

1 Matt. XIX. 21. 2 Mutt. xvi. 24. 3 Luke xix. 20 

* Of. Matt. XIX. 29. ^ Luke vii. 25. « Of. Matt. xx. 25-27 • xxiii. 11. 


thou ahalt eat the labours of thy hands, blessed art thou and it shall be 
well with thee ; " ' and the apostle says : "he who will not work, neithei 
let him eat ; " ^ and let eve: y man abide in the craft and office wherein he 
is called.' And for their labour they may receive whatever is needful, 
except money. And should it be necessary, they may go asking alms lilie 
other brothers. 

* * 

Let all the brothers endeavour to follow in the humility and poverty 

of our Lord Jesus Christ and let them remember that of all the world it 

behoves them to have nothing save as the Apostle says : "having food 

and wherewith to be covered, with these we are content".'' And they 

ought to rejoice when they consort mth rude and despised persons, with 

the poor and weak and sick and lepers and those who beg by the wayside. 

And should it be necessary they may go begging. 

•X- * 

And all the brothers shall beware lest they calumniate anybody, and 

let them not contend in words ; ' nay rather let them have a care to keep 

silence whenever the Lord grants them this grace. Neither let them 

argue between themselves nor with others, but let them have a care to 

reply humbly : "We are unprofitable servants ".'' 

* * 

When the brethren go through the world they shall carry nothing bj 

the way, neither purse nor scrip nor bread nor money nor staff ; and into 

whatsoever house they enter they shall first say ; Peace be to this house ; 

and in the same house remaining, they shall eat and drink what tilings 

are set before them.' And let them not resist evil;' but if anyone 

should strike them on the cheek let them offer to him the other ; and if 

anyone take away their garment, let them not forbid him the tunic also. 

They shall give to everyone who asketh them ; and if anyone take away 

their goods let them not ask again." 

* * 

All the brethren shall be Catholics and live and speak after th^ 

manner of Catholics. But should anyone of them stray from the Catholic 

faith or life in word or indeed and will not amend, he shall be altogether 

' Psalm oxxvii. 2. « 2 Thess. iii. 10. = Cf. 1 Cor. vii. 24. 

* 1 Tim. VI. 8. i5 Cf . 2 Tim. 14. " Luke xvii. 10. 

'Luke IX. 3; x. 4-8. 'Of. Matt. v. 39. 'Cf. Luke vi. 29-30. 


cast out from our fraternity. And all clerics and all religious let us hold 

as our lords in respect of those things which regard the salvation of the 

soul and do not deviate from our religion ; » and their order and office 

and mini.stration we must hold in reverence in the Lord. 

* * 

And this and similar exhortation and praise, all my brothers may an- 
nounce with the blessing of God, whenever it shall please them aud 
amongst whatsoever people: "Fear and honour, praise and bless, give 
thanks unto and adore the Lord God Almighty in Trinity and Unity, 
Father, Son aud Holy Ghost, Creator of all ". Do penance ; 2 bring forth 
fruits wortliy of penance,^ for know that ye shall all quickly die. Give 
and it shall be given unto you.^ Forgive and you shall be forgiven." 
And if you will not forgive men their sins neither will the Lord forgive 
you your sins." Confess all your sins.' Blessed are they who shall die 
in penance for they shall be in the kingdom of heaven. Woe to those 
nho shall not die in penance, because they shall be the children of the 
devil, whose works they do," and they shall go into everlasting fire. 

Beware and abstain from all evil and persevere unto the end in 

Then followed a brief exhortation to the brethren faith- 
full}' to hold and guard all these words ; and the Eule ended 
with the doxology : " Glory be to the Father and to the Son 
and to the Holy Ghost : as it was in the beginning, is now 
and ever shall be, world without end. Amen." 

And now perhaps, reader, you will better understand and, 
maybe, sympathize with the hesitating prelates who heard 
this Eule put forth as the constitution of a new society. But 
to rightly appreciate their hesitation and dissent, you must 
remember the men who stood before them with this Eule as 

' The word "religion " here means the Rule of the Order. 
-Matt. HI. 2. ^Lukein. 8. ^Lukevi. 38. 

» Luke VI. 37. « Mark xi. 26. ' James v. IG. 

* Cf. John VIII. 44. 


their expected charter. They were not trained legalists who, 
it might be assumed, would interpret the simple heroism of 
these naked Gospel precepts into some compromise with the 
weakness of human nature. Quite evidently they took the 
words literally and without any gloss. They had already 
shown their mettle ; had utterly renounced all their property 
and become common labourers and beggars ; had put aside 
all titles of honour and would not wiUingly exercise any 
authority or hold power over others ; had already shown 
themselves non-resisters to the evil men did to them. And 
upon these principles they would found a new society ! 

Nine hundred and ninety-nine men out of every thousand 
would pause before approving of such a scheme. It is one 
thing to set heroic laws as counsels for individual perfection ; 
quite another thing to bind a body of men with the State's 
sanction, to the observance of uttermost perfection : and such 
it seemed was what Francis asked. Politicians and men 
of affairs do not readily make aUiance with extreme and 
unconventional courses or with policies which contemplate 
no looking backwards. Such courses and pohcies are the 
heritage of poets and prophets and other ideahsts, or of 
mystics and saints. 

Fortunately for Francis, the poet and saint, there was 
the saintly Cardinal of St. Paul ; still more fortunate that 
Pope Innocent and many of his counsellors were men in 
whom the mysticism of religion blended curiously with the 
statesmanship of the world. 

The Primitive Eule was, in fact, the programme of an 
adventure of faith ; and it was in the spirit of high adventure 
that Pope Innocent approved it. But Innocent himself had 
ever been bold in adventure for the faith which was in him, 
as his successors learned when they came to steer the heri- 


tage he left them, amidst the shoals of secular diplomacy. 
And stern, forbidding in his aloofness, and magnificent as 
the pontiff was, he perhaps felt a certain spiritual kinship 
with the gentle, lowly Francis, in the adventurousness of 
faith which was common to them both. 




When Francis and his company left Eome after their re- 
ception by Pope Innocent, their one thought was to prove 
themselves worthy of the Pope's confidence. The gracious- 
ness of the Pontiff had warmed and hfted their hearts : they 
had all the joy of the born soldier in receiving his first 

Before leaving the city they had bade adieu at the tombs 
of the Apostles : then they had turned their faces once more 
towards Umbria. This time they did not go by the moun- 
tain valley of Eieti but they directed their steps across the 
low country which follows the line of the Tiber till it comes 
to the valley of the Nera. As they went along, the events of 
the past few days formed the subject of their conversation, 
and they discussed amongst themselves the wonderful mercies 
God had shown them and the Eule they had promised to ob- 
serve and how best they might fulfil the work committed to 
them by Christ and His Vicar. So engrossed were they in 
their talk that they quite forgot the needs of the body, and 
at midday they found themselves in a lonely spot with no 
house within sight. They had walked since early morning 



and were now quite faint with weariness and hunger. Whilst 
they were wondering how they might procure some food in 
this human wilderness suddenly a man approached them 
carrying some bread which he willingly shared with them. 
Thus relieved, the brethren saw in the stranger's coming 
another instance of God's providence, and they continued 
their journey, still more convinced that God would never fail 
them in their need.^ 

At length they came into the neighbourhood of Orte, 
where the Nera joins with the Tiber. Here at some distance 
from the town they found a quiet place where the ancient 
Etruscans in the long past had buried their dead. The cave- 
like tombs, now empty, offered shelter : so here the brethren 
purposed to abide awhile and give themselves to prayer and 
meditation : for they felt the need of collecting and strength- 
ening their souls' energies in uninterrupted communion with 
God at this new beginning of their vocation. 

For fifteen days they abode in this place : every day some 
of them would go into the town and beg food. If after the 
common meal, anything were left over, they gave it to the 
poor who passed by or they placed it in one of the tombs to 
supply part of the next day's meal. But at the end of the 
fifteen days they determined to proceed on their way. A 
subtle temptation had come into their retreat : the solitude was 
becoming very sweet to them and they had begun to argue 
amongst themselves whether they could not better fulfil their 
vocation by abiding apart from the haunts of men and giving 
themselves wholly to a life of contemplation and prayer. 
None felt the attraction of solitude more than Francis him- 
self ; but as he jxjndered prayerfully upon it, he grew con- 
vinced that it held a betrayal of his proper vocation. The 
1 1 Celano, 34 ; Leg. Maj. iv. 1. 


poor knight of Christ must have no abiding place on earth, 
but wander through the world to win souls to God. So they 
broke up this encampment.^ They passed along the course 
of the turbulent Nera through the dark well-wooded valley 
which leads into the open spaces of the valley of Spoleto, and 
so on to Assisi. 

They did not now settle at the Porziuncola : it may be 
that they were too many in number for the tiny shelter 
Prancis had built there; or it may be that Francis felt a 
scruple in claiming, as it were, a permanent abode anywhere 
after the temptation which came to him in the wilderness 
near Orte. Whatever the reason may have been, they lodged 
on their return, in a derelict shelter at Eivo-Torto,^ a dis- 
trict which lies within a half-hour's walk from the city as 
you look across the plain to Cannara. It was not far from 
the leper settlement at Santa Maria Maddalena, and one 
could easily reach the chapel of the Porziuncola through the 
wood in as quick time as it takes to get into the city.^ 

' I Celano, 34-5. 

^ " quoddajti tiigurium ah hominibus derelictum," says 3 Soo. 55. 

^ There has been much controversy over the actual site of the shelter at 
Elvo-Torto. In the sixteenth century a church was built upon a supposed 
site. It is standing to-day and the custodians have no doubt at all about its 

M. Sabatier {Spec. Perfect, p. 95, n. 1) asserts that the shelter was 
close to the leper settlement of Santa Maria Maddalena, basing his assertion 
on the words of Eartholi, who describes the shelter as " iiltra Sanctam Mariam 
{i.e. de Portiuncula) per spatium parvis viiliaris juxta hosaitale leprcscrmn ". 
But Bartholi's measurements cannot be taken as accurate. However from 
the words of 3 Soc. 55 : Religiierunt igitur dictum tugunum ad usimi pau- 
perum leprosorum, it seems probable that the shelter was nearer to the leper 
settlement than the present church of Kivo-Torto. Here I would like to ap- 
peal for a more reverent care of the chapels of Santa Maria Maddalena and 
San Euffino d' Arce, than they are given at present. No ground in the neigh- 
bourhood of Assisi is more sacred to the memory of Francis than these places, 
where he so frequently nursed the lepers. May we hope that the day will 
come when they will be placed in a more reverent custody ? 


The shelter, however, was never built to give housing to 
twelve men, and because the brethren in their solicitude for 
each other would be apt to remain outside in the open that 
others might have more comfort inside, Francis took a piece 
of chalk and marked on the wall a place for each one, where 
he might rest and pray when his day's work was over. 

Here the brethren lodged it would seem far into the fol- 
lowing winter or longer. Things went hard with them at 
times in the way of bodily comfort. Not only was there the 
cramped space but now and then there was also a lack of 
food, even of the poor fare they were now accustomed to. 
Some days they had to appease their hunger with mangels, 
tlie food of beasts.^ 

They do not appear to have undertaken any long mission- 
ary journeys at this time. It may be that Francis thought 
it more prudent to exercise his little band in the more inti- 
mate ways of the poverty they had vowed, in manual labour 
and services for the lepers, and in the habit of self-discipline 
and prayer.' Perhaps it was that the political turmoil and 
troubles which had come upon Umbria, made missionary work 
on a larger scale inexpedient for these neophytes. For the 
forces of the emperor Otho IV, who had been crowned by 
the Pope in the preceding year, and had broken his oath of 
fidelity to the Holy See, were now over-running the valley of 
Spoleto, laying waste the territories of Perugia and reducing 
all Umbria to the imperial power. At the beginning of the 
year, Otho had invested one of his captains, Dipold of Acerra, 
with the duchy of Spoleto, vacant since the exclusion of Con- 
rad of Lutzen ; and when, on 28 February, Perugia pro- 
mised to defend the patrimony of the Holy See, Otho at once 

'3 Soc. 55. 
n Celano, 45. 


let loose his army to ravage and bring into subjection the 
Unibrian cities : and all that year the country knew no peace. 
In the autumn Otho made an armed progress through the 
valley on his way to Eieti. It was probably on this occasion 
that Francis sent one of the brethren to meet the emperor as 
he was passing by and to announce to him that his power 
would be of short duration.^ In this fashion did the brethren 
in these early days at Eivo-Torto chiefly fulfil their mission- 
ary duty, by announcing their message to the passers-by or 
to the people amongst whom they worked. 

But Francis himself did more. On his return from Eome 
he began to preach not only in the open places of the city 
but in the churches. The first church in which he preached 
was the little church of San Giorgio,^ where Bernard da 
Quintavalle had distributed his goods to the poor. 

Shortly afterwards the canons of the Cathedral invited 
him to preach every Sunday in the Cathedral itself.^ These 
sermons took place in the early morning when the Italian 
people love best to flock to the churches for Mass ; and Francis, 
perhaps for greater recollection, went into Assisi on the Satur- 

^ Ibid., 43; where, however, the chronicler seemg to imply that this in- 
cident happened as Otho was on his way to Rome to receive the imperial 
crown [^^ ad suscipiendain coroTiaTn'^). But Otho seems not to have gone by 
Assisi on his way to Eome, but by Viterbo (of. P. Boehmer, Regesta Imperii, 
V. p. 96). 

After his coronation, however, Otho passed by Assisi in December, 1209, 
and again on his way to Rieti in 1210. He was at Rieti in the November of 
that year; in which same month he was excommunicated by the Pope (of. 
Boehmer, tbid. p. 103 and pp. 126-7 ; Gregorovius, Hist, of the City of Rome, 
[Engl. iransL], Vol. V, part i. pp. 86-93. Not improbably Otho's shameless 
pillaging of the Papal territories brought upon him the prophetic warning of 

2 Chron. Jordani, No. 50 {Aiial. Franc, i. p. 16) ; Leg. Maj. iv. i. 

3 Leg. Maj. iv. 4. 



day evening and lodged the night in a house in the canons' 
garden adjoining the Cathedral. There he slept his brief sleep, 
and then arose to prepare for his discourse by long hours of 

It is difficult to describe the effect of Francis' appear- 
ance in the pulpit of the Cathedral. One must have seen 
an Italian congregation hanging upon the words of a popular 
preacher to realize the scene. They are an impressionable 
people easily provoked to tears or laughter, to applause or 
scorn. They are quick to detect insincerity and are apt to 
despise a laboured effort. He who would win them, must speak 
heart to heart, and they love to have the message put before 
them dramatically, with gesture and movement. The whole 
man, body and soul, must speak if they are to listen. And 
when they are moved they respond in the same entire human 
fashion. - They utter their approval or dissent, sometimes in 
words, sometimes in gesture, sometimes in a tense attitude 
of the whole body. Francis himself was typically Italian 
in temperament and character. When he felt strongly, his 
whole body reflected his emotion. Unconsciously and with- 
out effort he would act his thoughts ; his words vibrated with 
the emotion of his heart, and arms and feet and all his body 
moved in unison with his speech. ^ Then he had that special 
gift of the moving speaker, a musical voice, easily able to 
modulate its utterance to the character of the emotions.^ He 
lacked a fine presence, he was too small and spare ; and the 
coarse, ill-shapen habit he wore rather distracted the eye from 
the delicacy of his features.^ But the bodily presence of the 

' The room in which Francis lodged is still shown to the visitor to the 
Duomo of Assisi. 

2Cf. I Celano, 73, 86 : II Celano, 107. 

8 " Vox veJieinens, dulcis, clara atque sonora " (I Celano 83). 

^ See the letter of Thomas of Spalatro. Of. infra, p. 359. 


man was forgotten as soon as he began to speak, and the 
inner fire of his spirit shot out its lightning flashes, dazzhng 
the inward eye with the clearness of the truth he revealed 
in the consciences of his hearers. He had no studied rhetoric, 
he spoke straight from the fullness of the heart, in pithy sen- 
tences brittle and swift. His language was homely, as it was 
spoken by the people themselves: he borrowed none of the 
phrases of the schools : oftentimes the homeliness of the 
speech was elevated only by the sincerity of the speaker, at 
other times by the dramatic vividness of the thought or a 
poetic sensibility to nature. Not infrequently when people 
sought afterwards to recall his words, the words themselves 
fell flat or insipid apart from the fire of the spirit with which 
they were uttered. Francis' power was in himself, not in his 
words. He brought them no new doctrine to arrest their 
thought ; he was as a flame enkindling the smouldering faith 
of his hearers : for awhile he would lift them up into the 
clear ardours of heaven, where their souls stood revealed to 
themselves and their hearts were aglow with unwonted desire 
of the higher life. And at such times "he seemed to those 
who beheld him as a man from another world, whose heart 
was set on Heaven and his face turned towards it, and who 
was seeking to draw them upwards with him".^ Unflinch- 
ingly he searched the consciences of his audience ; but there 
was a sympathy in his voice which left no sting but only 
a confession of the truth : it was as though he were voicing 
the hearts of those before him, now that they suddenly stood 
in the presence of God. 

An example of the substance of his preaching is found in 
the letters and written exhortations which he was accustomed 
to send to the people by the friars, at those times when sick- 

1 Leg. Maj. iv. Cf. II Gelauo, 107. 
8 * 


ness prevented him from going abroad. Thus one can 
imagine him standing before the crowd of citizens in the 
Cathedral of Assisi, his whole body working with emotion, 
his face tense in its earnestness, uttering some such words as 
these: "We must not be wise and prudent according to the 
flesh but rather must we be simple, humble and pure. Our 
bodies we must hold in opprobrium and contempt since all of 
us by our own fault are wretched and corrupt, rotten and 
worms, as the Lord tells us by His prophet : I am a worm 
and no man, the reproach of men and the outcast of the 
people. 1 And we must never desire to be set above others, 
but to be servants and subject to every human creature for 
God's sake. And all who shall do in this manner and persevere 
therein, upon them the spirit of the Lord shall rest, and He 
will make in them His dwelling-place and they shall be children 
of our heavenly Father, whose works they do ; and they 
shall be the spouses, brethren, and mothers of our Lord Jesus 
Christ. We are His spouses when the faithful soul is united 
with Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost. We are His brethren 
when we do the will of His Father who is in Heaven. We 
are His mothers when we bear Him in our heart and our 
body by love and a pure and sincere conscience, and bring 
Him forth in holy deeds which must shine as an example to 
others. O how glorious and holy and great it is to have a 
Father in heaven ! how holy, fair and lovable it is to 
have a Spouse in heaven ! how holy and delightful, pleas- 
ing and humble, peaceful and sweet, amiable and above all 
things to be desired, is it to have such a Brother who laid 
down His life for His sheep and prayed to the Father for us, 
saying: 'Holy Father, keep in My name them whom Thou 
hast given Me '." 

' Psalm XXI. 6 (Vulgate). 


Or again he might be denouncing the folly of avarice and 
usury, that folly which was at the root of so much of the 
bitterness which set class against class and family against 
family in hatred and frequent feuds : 

" Look to it ye blind, you who are deceived by your enemies, 
the flesh, the world, and the devil. Neither in this world nor 
in the next will you have any good thing. You think you 
will enjoy the vanities of this world, but you are deceived ; 
for the day and the hour comes, of which you think not, 
which you know not and are ignorant of. The body sickens, 
death draws nigh. Eelatives and friends come and tell you : 
' Place your affairs in order '. And his wife and children, his 
relatives and friends make pretence to weep. Looking up 
he sees them weeping and is moved by an evil impulse, and 
considering cunningly within himself, he says to them : ' Be- 
hold I put my body and soul and all that I have, into your 
hands '. Truly accursed is this man who thus confidently 
places his body and soul and all that he has, into such hands. 
Wherefore the Lord says by the prophet : ' Accursed is the 
man who trusts in man'. Then at once they bring in the 
priest ; and the priest says to him : ' Will you receive penance 
for all your sins ? ' He rephes : ' I will '. ' Will you make 
satisfaction out of your goods as far as you can, for all the 
fraud and deception you have committed ? ' He replies : 
' No '. Then asks the priest : ' Why not ? ' ' Because,' says 
he, ' I have already put all my goods into the hands of my 
relatives and friends.' And he begins to lose his speech, and 
thus the wretched man dies a bitter death." ^ 

1 Both these passages are taken from Epistola I (Opuscula, ed. Quarcicohi, 
pp. 93-4; 96-Y). According to Wadding this letter was written in 1212 or 
1213; but others thinli it was written in the spring of 1215, when Francis 
waa sick with fever. Undoubtedly, however, it sums up the teaching of the 


This dramatic figuring of the deathbed of the usurer or 
dishonest merchant would send many a man home with a 
chastened spirit, and such sermons were followed not in- 
frequently by entire conversions, and there came distributions 
to the poor of ill-gotten wealth, and not a few put aside alto- 
gether the unholy business of merchandise and took to less 
doubtful employments, such as cultivating the land.^ 

But in all his sermons Francis never failed to urge upon 
the citizens the blessings of peace and mutual love nor to de- 
nounce with pleading earnestness the spirit of hatred and 
envy which kept the commune in perpetual ferment, and the 
ambition for power which made the higher classes, whether 
nobles or burghers, bitterly hated by the lower class of citizen. 
It was the same in all the Italian communes : no sooner were 
they free from foreign domination, than the more wealthy 
began to usurp the government and tyrannize over the less 
wealthy, and faction was formed against faction and there 
was no common interest save when the German loomed up 
again to take away their independence : and oftentimes blood 
flowed freely in these internecine quarrels. Francis never 
tired of reiterating his cry of " Peace " ! and when he 
preached the Christian glory of service and mutual subjection, 
the citizens knew that his mind's eye was upon the civic feud. 
Hard though it was to put off the ingrained habit of 

apostolate. Francis, as wo know, never hesitated to repeat himself. Thus 
passages of this very letter are repeated again in the Regula Prima, cap. 
XXII. Of. Pr. Paschal Robinson, The Writings of St. Francis, pp. 96-7. 
iWe find this very frequently happening later on with the tcrtiaries or 
secular followers of Francis. It was doubtless a practice inculcated by Francis 
from the beginning on those who sought his advice. He never spared the 
avarice engendered by the industrial movement of his time. For this reason 
it was that he insisted on hia disciples giving their wealth to the poor and 
not to their relatives, because he considered that the money begotten of fraud 
could only be purified when given in alms. 


standing by one's own interest or ambition or by tbat of one's 
family or party, yet in the end his persistent pleading told 
and men began to utter the old party cries of hatred or arro- 
gance with less assurance and even with shame. 

Those Sunday sermons in the Cathedral, backed by the 
life of the brethren at Rivo-Torto, were working their way 
into the conscience of the city. Of that there is no doubt. 
Assisi was coming to acknowledge a prophet in its son and 
submit to his sweet guidance. 

An event happened at the beginning of the winter of 
1210-1211, to which historians have pointed as an evidence of 
Francis' influence. On 9 November, the citizens met in 
council and signed a treaty of concord amongst themselves. 
By this treaty the Majores or higher grade of citizens and the 
Minores or lower grade, bound themselves solemnly to work 
together for the honour and corumon good of Assisi, and 
each party promised to enter into no alliance with pope or 
emperor or kmg, nor with any city or town, nor with any 
person of power, without the consent of the whole commune. 
They were to respect each other's rights and henceforth to 
live in perpetual harmony. Exiles were to be allowed to 
return ; the people who lived in the territories of the commune 
outside the city were to have equal rights with those who 
lived in the city itself, and all parties were to fulfil their 
respective obligations : taxes were fixed and were not to be 
assessed arbitrarily to any one's disadvantage. And so civic 
peace was to reign. ^ 

It may be that the presence of the emperor's forces almost 
at their gates had something to do in bringing about this act 
of civic concord ; at least so far as bringing to reason those 
whom Francis' words had not yet moved. Nevertheless they 

' A. Cristofani, op. cifc. pp. 79-82. 


are doubtless right who connect this act of peace with Francis' 

Meanwhile out at Kivo-Torto, Francis was fashioning his 
disciples to take their part in the apostolate which he had 
begun : nor did his work in the city distract him from this 
intimate solicitude for the men who had left all and followed 
him. As we have said, the brethren were at times in dire 
st] aits to supply even the barest necessities for their bodily 
support. But this in no way discouraged them. In their 
fervour of spirit they would oftentimes deny themselves in 
oriltr to grow accustomed to do with as little sustenance as 
possible: for these men held that they were not really poor 
if they asked more of the charity of others than was really 
necessary ; and to receive more than the}' actually needed they 
deemed an abuse of others' charity and a robbery of other 
poor. More than once Francis had need to rebuke their in- 
discretion. One night the whole company was awakened by 
the cries of a young brother who thought he was dying. 
Francis arose and saw that it was sheer want of food that 
the brother was suffering from, and without more ado he got 
together what scraps of food were at hand and himself pre- 
pared a meal. Then he sat down with the famished brother 
and, to spare his shame, himself took a share. When they 
had eaten, Francis spoke his mind to the brethren standing 
round: "My best beloved," he said, "I tell you that each 
one of you ought to pay heed to his nature ; for some of you 
may be strong enough to be sustained on less food than 
others ; yet it is my will that he who needs more food shall 
not be bound to imitate those who need less, but let each give 
to his body what it requires in order to be strong enough to 
serve the spirit. For whilst we must beware of that super- 
fluity of food which is a hindrance both to body and soul ; in 


like manner, nay even more, must we beware of too great ab- 
stinence, seeing that the Lord wills to have mercy and not 
sacrifice." ^ 

On another occasion Francis, noticing that a brother was 
not well, rose early in the morning and took him to a neigh- 
bouring vineyard, and choosing a spot near a good vine, sat 
down with the brother and together they ate of the grapes,^ 
In after years the brethren would relate these incidents to a 
younger generation to show what manner of man Francis 

And perhaps nothing in these first sensitive days made a 
greater impression on the mind of all the brotherhood, than 
Francis' constant care for them, so maternal in its quick 
divining sympathy. He was as their very soul. He per- 
ceived and felt their temptations and difficulties almost more 
clearly than themselves, and his word always brought comfort. 

No trouble was too trivial for his watchfulness. He had 
known too well the difficulties of those early days when a 
man sets forth to walk the higher road in response to the im- 
perious call of the spirit ; he knew the elation and depression, 
the buoyant hope and the blank discouragement which make 
the first years of the spiritual life at once a delight and a 
torture. And as yet the brethren had not the vicarious se- 
curity which an individual derives from an estabhshed order 
of things. The fraternity was only at the beginning of a 
corporate consciousness. The shelter of Eivo-Torto was not 
possessed of that spirit of place which was to come so swiftly 
to the Porziuncola. The one earthly mainstay of the brothers 

' II Celano, 22 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 27 ; Leg. Maj. v. 7. See also Ecolea- 
ton, De adveiihi FF. Min. [ed. Little], col. xv. p. 106, where it is related how 
St. Francis compelled Albert of Pisa to take twice the quantity of food he was 
accustomed to take. 

»II Celano, 176 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 28. 



In after j'ears the place of the Porziuncola was to acquire 
a sort of sacramental significance in the story of Francis and 
his friars. It was the sanctuary wherein the sacred fire was 
deemed to be enshrined and kept alight and where the spirit 
of Francis was held to haunt the earth. 

Holy of Holies is this Place of Places, 
Meetly held worthy of surpassing honour ! 
H;ippy thereof the surname, ' ' of the Angels, " 
Happier yet the name, " The Blessed Mary ". 
Now a true omen the third name conferreth, 
" The Little Portion," on the Little Brethren : 
Here where by night a presence oft of Angels, 
Singing sweet hymns UlumiQeth the watches. 

Here was the old world's broad highway made narrow. 
Here the way made broader for the chosen People ; 
Here grew the Rule ; here Poverty, our Lady, 
Smiting back pride, called back the Cross amongst us.' 

So sang one in after times, uttering in verse the thoughts 
of many brethren. And to this day is the place of the Porziun- 
cola held sacred in the Catholic Church next after the three 
holiest sanctuaries of the Holy Land, St. Peter's in Eome 
and St. James at Compostella. 

' Spec. Perfect, cap. 84 [S. Evans' translation]. 


The old chroniclers tell how after Francis and the brethren 
had taken up their abode there, a certain devout man saw 
in a vision a great multitude of men gathered on bended 
knees around the little chapel, and they were all blind. With 
clasped hands and uplifted faces they were beseeching heaven 
in a loud and pitiable voice to give them light, when suddenly 
from the sky there broke forth a great radiance which fell 
upon them all and restored their sight. ^ And indeed the 
Porziuncola was to bring hght to many people who had been 
sitting in darkness, as all who know the story of Francis are 

For three years past Francis had loved this chapel in the 
woods, and there he and his first disciples, as we have seen, 
had found their first meeting-place. It may seem strange 
that when he first bethought him of the need of a sort of 
nursery for this new brotherhood, he did not at once turn 
to the Porziuncola. Yet so it is often in life. The men and 
things that are destined to be most intimately bound up with 
our ultimate struggles and affections come to us in some sort 
as an afterthought or as a fate over-ruling our own decision. 
It may be that Francis in the beginning thought to have no 
permanent dwelling at all, and that only with the coming of 
new novices he grew convinced of the need of some dedicated 
spot where the spirit of the Lady Poverty might make for 
itself a shelter from the world for the training of the neo- 
phytes. Then finding the shelter at Eivo-Torto unoccupied, 
it would be hke Francis to take this as an indication of God's 
Providence and to seek no further for a lodging place ; he 
would hesitate to cast a longing desire upon any other spot 
however attractive, for in such desire he would see a sort of 

'II Celano, 20; Leg. Maj. ii. 8; 3 Soo. 56. 


mental possession. His rule was to take what was freely 
given : he would never lay claim to anything. 

But Eivo-Torto was nevertheless not destined for long to 
be the nursery of the Franciscan brotherhood. A trivial 
thing, the discourtesy of a peasant, was the occasion of the 
brethren leaving it. One day when they were at prayer, a 
peasant, driving an ass, came to the shelter. He was evidently 
annoyed to find it already occupied and in some sort of pos- 
session, and this aroused his anger and induced him to assert 
his right to enter in with ostentatious incivility. In a loud 
voice he urged his beast : " get you in ; here we will make 
ourselves a cosy dwelling " ; and so he went on addressing 
to the ass the taunts of usurped ownership and easy living, 
which were meant for the ears of the brethren. The dis- 
courtesy of the man's speech cut Francis to the quick; he 
felt it for his brethren's sake, for willingly though these men 
endured personal injury they were yet sensitive to the injury 
done to another.^ Moreover, as he thought the matter over, 
he was troubled at the insinuated disloyalty to his Lady 
Poverty, and again, at the disturbance such intrusion must 
cause to the meditations of the brethren : and he ever had a 
feeling of delicacy about intruding between God and the soul 
in moments of prayer. So without further delay, he bade the 
brethren leave the shelter and seek with him a resting-place 
elsewhere. With something of his old wit, he remarked : 
" God has not called us to prepare a stable for an ass and to 
entertain every passer-by, but to preach the way of salvation 
and give ourselves to prayer ".^ 

But the difficulty now was where to go ? With his habit- 
ual deference to the Bishop of Assisi, Francis first went to 

iCf. 3 Soc. 42. 

»3 Soc. 5S; T Celano, 44. 


him and asked for the use of some chapel where the brethren 
might without disturbance make their prayer ; but the bishop 
had no chapel to put at their disposal. Next he went to the 
canons of the Cathedral, but received the same reply. Finally 
he sought out the abbot of the monastery on Monte Subasio, 
who at once offered him the chapel of the Porziuncola. But 
the abbot made one condition : should the fraternity increase 
and grow into a great order, the Porziuncola chapel must 
always be regarded as the chief place of the order. Francis 
readily acquiesced ; and to his chivalrous soul it seemed to him 
that this condition placed the fraternity in perpetual fealty 
to the Mother of God "the head, after her Son, of all the 
Saints ".^ 

So the brethren went to the Porziuncola, and around the 
chapel they built narrow huts of branches of trees and earth," 
such as a traveller might build for a temporary rest on a 
journey ; for Francis was insistent that even here, where 
in God's Providence the fraternity would abide for all time, 
their abode should have no character of a permanent dwell- 
ing, so that the brethren might be ready at any moment to 
go forth should God call them. It was some years before a 
house was built at the Porziuncola, and then it was built by 
the citizens of Assisi against the will of Francis.^ And lest 
the brethren should at any time come to regard the chapel as 
their own or claim a proprietorship in the land, Francis made 
a law that every year they should, by way of rent, take a basket 

' II Celano, 18; 3 Soc. 56; Spec. Perfect, cap. 55. That the Porziun- 
cola was only given to Francis for the use of the brethren and not as a real 
possession is proved by the bull of Innocent IV, dated 11 March 1244 in 
which amongst other properties of the Abbey of Monte Subasio is mentioned 
the chapel of the Porziuncola. Of. P. Sabatier, Spec. Perfect. Etude SpeciaU 
du chapitre 55, p. 269. 

'' Of. Spec. Perfect, capp. 9, 10. ' Vide infra, p. 267, 


of fish caught in the river, to the abbot of Monte Subasio : 
and for many years this was done until the great abbey was 
destroyed. And in his courtesy the abbot would send back a 
flask of oil as a receipt.^ 

In the century after Francis' death, a delightful story was 
told as to how the brethren came by this gift of the Porziun- 
cola. A devout rustic, it runs, standing one day near the 
chapel of our Lady heard the angels singmg within, and full 
of wonderment he ran and told the priest who served the 
chapel, and ended by asking : Why do you not ask Brother 
Francis and the brothers who live at Eivo-Torto to go and 
dwell there ? The priest acted on the suggestion and went and 
brought Francis to the spot. No sooner did Francis enter 
the chapel than he beheld in vision Christ and His Blessed 
Mother ; and he boldly asked our Lord whence He had come. 
Our Lord answered: "I am come from beyond the sea ".'■' 
" Wherefore '? " asked Francis again ; and again our Lord 
answered: "To espouse this place to Myself". Francis 
coming to himself exclaimed : "I will never leave this spot ". 
And he went straightway and besought the abbot to give 
him this place. ^ The story is true at least to the spirit of 
the Porziuncola and to that singular affection and rever- 
ence in which Francis held it. For to him it was in very 
truth a place wedded to Christ and his glorious Mother ; * and 

^ Spec. Perfect, cap. 55. The abbey was destroyed in 1399. But the 
custom of sending annually a basket of fish to the BeDcdictines, has recently 
been revived ; the fish being now sent to the monks of San Pietro in Assisi, where 
the monks of Monte Subasio took refuge after the destruction of their abbey. 

2 Evidently a reference to the traditional origin of the chapel. Vide 
supra, p. 53. 

'' Bartholi, Tractatus de Indulgentia S. M. de Portiuncula, cap. i. 

* Of. Spec. Perfect, cap. 55 ; " licet eniin locus iste sit sanctus et prmle<:tu3 
a Ghristo et a Virgine gloriosa ". 


within its walls the angels sang to him and heaven revealed 
its secrets. 

Francis' dehght in settling at this woodland chapel can be 
compared only to that of a bridegroom bringing his bride to 
the home of her choice. The very name was a joy to him ; 
he thought it must have been given to this spot in anticipa- 
tion of the coming of the Lady Poverty.^ With a fond re- 
verence he was sohcitous to make this place a mirror of the 
perfection of the life to which the brethren were called. He 
set it about with a hedge within which no secular person 
might set foot, so that no word other than that concern- 
ing spiritual things might be uttered there. Within that 
enclosure even the brethren might not speak save of God 
and their soul's welfare. 

No idleness was tolerated there ; when the brethren were 
not at prayer they were at work : each must have some craft 
to which lie could turn when not employed in spiritual exer- 
cises.- Day and night they kept up the service of prayer. 
At first, having no books from wliich to read the canonical 
office, they recited instead the Pater Noster at each of the 
liturgical hours. 

The domestic ordering of the fraternity too was in ac- 
cordance with the spirit of Poverty : it was based upon 
mutual service and brotlierly love.' Where all were ready to 

'G£. Spec. Perfect, cap. 55; II Celano, 18. 

^Thus Frauois carved wooden vessels, probably for the use of the 
bn Hiren (of. II Celano, 97) ; in later years he made wafers for saora- 
luental use. At Greocio they still preserve the iron mould he had for this 
purpose. Brother Giles was an adept in making baskets (of. Conformil. in 
Anal. Franc, iv. p. 206). Brother Juniper carried about an awl for meudincf 
sandals {ihid. p. 245). 

^Cf. Regula Prima, cap. v. : Per caritatein spiritus voluntarie ferviant et 
obediant invicem. Et hccc est vera et sancta obedlentia Domini nostri Jesii Christi 


put aside themselves and their own will and to make them- 
selves servants to each other, and where all were animated 
by the same spirit and ideal, authority, as it is generally 
understood, was hardly needed. Francis' idea of authority 
was that of leadership in the harder paths of the vocation and 
of service and solicitude for the needs of those who depended 
upon him : and this was the idea he impressed upon the 
brethren. In the ordinary administration of the daily life of 
the brethren he would seldom exercise the authority given 
him by the Holy See ; but he had chosen another who was 
held not so much as a superior but as a mother of the house- 
hold, and whose duty it was to care for the temporal needs of 
the brethren, to shield them against the intrusions of the outer 
world which might be a distraction to their spirit of prayer, and 
to set to each his particular office in the common life. But 
Francis took care that each brother should have periods when 
he might give himself uninterruptedly to the cultivation of the 
spirit in seclusion and prayer whilst the active duties were 
performed by others.^ 

For their daily bread, of course, they went out to work or 
beg. They refused no work which was not unbecoming the 
unworldliness of their character nor in opposition to their 
conscience. They did work in the fields, helping the farm 
hands to gather in the harvests or cultivate the soil ; they 

' This method of government was long maintained in its primitive sim- 
plicity in the hermitages of the Order, after the establishment of a more formal 
government in the convents or larger community houses : as is evident from 
the Rule which Francis later on gave for those living in hermitages. Cf. 
De religiosa habitatione in Eremo, in Opuscula (Quaracchi), pp. 83-4. 

When later on more formal superiors were established, Francis still en- 
deavoured to keep alive this idea of service as the essential characteristic of 
the superior in the fraternity : he would have superiors styled "ministers," 
not priors. Of. Regula Prima, cap. vi. 



even worked as servants in the houses of the citizens : always, 
however, doing the menial labour and never accepting any 
post of authority.^ When the day's work was finished they 
returned to the Porziuncola, bringing with them the food 
they had earned, which went towards the common meal. 
But when work was not to be had, or when their employers 
treated them scurvily and sent them home unrewarded, then 
they must needs go from door to door and beg.^ 

Such was the life with which Francis adorned the Porzi- 
uncola that his Lady Poverty might find there an abiding 
dwelling-place and set the law of her spirit to the fraternity 
in all the time to come. And it was here that the new 
postulants were to receive their first instruction in the life 
and duties of the brotherhood. There was no formal period 
of probation for novices at this time, as there came to be 
later on. When anyone sought admission to the fraternity 
he was brought to Francis and submitted to his scrutiny. If 
the postulant showed signs of a vocation he was given the 
habit and received to profession. But first he was obliged to 
give whatever property he possessed to the poor. It was 
not enough that he left it in the hands of his relatives. These 
knights of Poverty were set by God to estabhsh a new order 
of things in the world in conformity with the wisdom of the 
Gospel of Chiist. They were not to estabhsh their famihes 
in wealth and thereby pander to their vanity, but they were 
to teach the world by example the beauty of universal love 
and pity. They who were in need had a first claim upon 
their property according to the charity of Christ : and to 
deny them this charity was in the eyes of Francis to cheat 
Christ Himself of His heritage. Only when their relatives 

> Cf. liegula Prima, cap. vii. ; I Celano, 39-40. 
'^ Of. Tcstiimentum S. Franc. 


themselves were in want, might the postulants leave them 
their goods. It happened on one occasion that a postulant 
came to seek admittance into the brotherhood and was bidden 
in the usual course to go first and distribute his goods to the 
poor. He went back and renounced his possessions, but in 
favour of his family. Then he returned and told Francis 
what he had done ; but Francis laughed and bade him go 
back again to the family he had enriched : " You have given 
what is yours to your brethren according to the flesh and 
have defrauded the poor. You are not worthy to be reckoned 
amongst God's poor. Go your way." ^ 

But amongst all the neighbourly services which Francis 
inculcated upon the brethren, the service of the lepers was 
the most insistent. In his courteous way he used to speak of 
them not as " the lepers " but as " my brother-Christians ". 
And the brethren entered into his compassionate regard for 
them with enthusiasm. It was perhaps the portion of their 
service for others which they liked most, once they had over- 
come their dread of its loathsomeness. The lepers' helpless- 
ness and abandonment appealed strongly to their chivalry. 
Sometimes indeed then' compassion outran their discretion. 
There was a brother, James the Simple they called him, who 
was given the care of a leper who was in the last stages of 
the terrible disease, and so loathsome to look upon, that he 
was not permitted to leave the hospital. The pitying brother 
fretted that his charge should be so utterly denied his freedom 
and the society of men, and one day brought him to the 
Porziuncola to see the brethren. Francis was away when 
the leper arrived, and finding him there on his return, he 
at once said to Brother James in the presence of the leper : 
" you must not lead these brother-Christians abroad in this 

1 II Celano, 81. 



fashion; it is not decent, neither for you nor for them". 
But no sooner had he uttered the words than he was filled 
with pity and remorse because of the presence of the leper. 
Straightway he went and threw himself upon his knees before 
Peter Cathanii, who was then the " mother " of the com- 
munity, and accused himself of his lack of thought for the 
leper's feehngs, and ended by saying : " Confirm unto me the 
penance I wish to perform ' ' . Brother Peter replied : ' ' What- 
ever it will please thee to do, that do ". " This then is my 
penance," said Francis, " I will eat out of the same dish 
with my brother-Christian." And at the meal which followed, 
Francis and the leper sat side by side and ate out of the 
same dish.' 

Perhaps the most diificult lesson the novice had to learn 
was that of begging his bread : and it seems that before re- 
ceiving the novices to profession they were first tried in this 
exercise as well as in others. For there was one novice who, 
as the legend bluntly puts it, " did hardly pray at all and 
never did work, neither would he go forth for alms ; but he 
did eat bravely ". Francis dealt with him somewhat caustic- 
ally : " Go your way. Brother Fly, since you are willing to 
eat the sweat of the other brethren but yourself are idle in 
the work of the Lord. Like a barren drone yom gain nothing 
and do not work, but you devour the labour and gains of the 
good bees " :^ and so he dismissed him. 

1 Spec. Perfect, ed. Sabatier, cap. 58 ; ed. Lemmcns, xxxii. In the former 
edition Peter Cathanii is described as Minister General ; but in Lemmens' 
edition, it is simply said that Peter was present, without giving him any title. 
As Peter never was Minister Geneial, it is evident that Sabatier's edition in 
this chapter is a later and less reliable version. The probability is that Peter 
was fulfilling the office of superior or " mother," since Francis went to him to 
confirm his penance. 

- Spec. Perfect, cap. 24 ; II Celauo, 45. 


Yet was Francis always compassionate for the beginners 
who were sent out to beg ; for he himself knew the mortifica- 
tion of it. To encourage them he would himself go out first 
on the quest for alms. He deemed it no sign of a worldly 
spirit when a young brother felt shame in begging, but only 
when for shame they refused to beg.^ 

He himself had now come, from frequent meditation on 
the poverty of Jesus Christ, to hold it as a privilege to live 
by alms : and more especially by alms won on the quest from 
door to door. Such alms he considered more honourable to 
poverty than those offered spontaneously, because they were 
won by a greater exercise of humility." 

But for the younger brethren this begging from door to 
door was an undoubted trial of their vocation. One day a 
brother who had been sent out to beg — perhaps one of the 
shy ones who had need to summon his courage to his aid — 
came back carrying his wallet filled with food, over his 
shoulder, and as he came along he sang aloud. Francis 
hearing his voice at once went out to meet him, and taking 
the wallet, embraced the brother and kissed the shoulder over 
which the wallet had lain. " Blessed be my brother," he 
exc aimed, " who goes forth promptly, quests humbly, and 
comes back merrily." ^ 

1 II Celano, 71. ^Ibid. 

*II Celano, 76; cf. Sj;fc. Perfect, cap. 25. The evidence of all the early 
legends is too clear tu admit any doubt upon the fact that the Friars Minor in 
the primitive days went begging when other means of subsistence failed them. 
Yet two contemporary witnesses outside the Order state that the first Francis- 
cans did not beg. Burkhardt in his Chronicle (Mon. Germ. Hist. Scripioies, 
torn. XXIII. p. 376) says: " Pauperes Mmores . . . veqiiepecwnam nee quic- 
quam alhcd pr ceter victum accixnehant et si quando vestem necessariavi qui^jpiatn 
ipsis sponte conferebat, non enim quicquam peteient ab aliqvo ". And Jacques 
de Vitry in his well-known letter (cf. P. Sabatier, Spec. Perfect, p. 300) saya 
of the Poor Clares ; ''Nihil accipiunt sed de labore manuum vivutit". The 


To encourage the brethren, Francis often discoursed to 
them of the poverty of our Lord. " My brothers most be- 
loved," he said to them once, "the Son of God was more 
noble than any of us ; yet for our sakes He made Himself 
poor in this world. For love of Him we have chosen this 
way of poverty, wherefore we ought not to be ashamed to go 
begging. To be ashamed of the pledge of our heavenly herit- 
age does not become us who are heirs of the kingdom. I 
tell you that many noble and wise men will come and join 
our brotherhood, who will take it as an honour to go out and 
beg. You, therefore, who are the first-fruits of the brethren, 
should rejoice and be glad and not be unwilling to do what 
you must hand down to these saints to come." ^ 

Eventually by his example and fervent exhortations, 
Francis so far overcame the repugnance of the brethren that 
tlie questors, each returning from his own quarter of the city 
on a day the}' had been sent out to beg, would lay out their 
alms in mock rivalry contending as to who had proved him- 
self the best beggar.' 

They were, however, on no account allowed to receive 
money, even if it were freely offered them. Upon this point 
Francis was absolutely decided. Only in rare cases when 
the sick were in sore need, and in no other way could be re- 
lieved, did he allow the brethren to accept money at all ; ' 
and even that exception he made reluctantly. For to his 

explanation is probably that the friars only begged in cases of necessity and 
without making themselves a nuisance to others. This explanation would 
also give another reason for St. Francis' special delight in alms gained by 
questing, as th( y would then be a token of a greater poverty and destitution. 

' II Celano, 74 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 18. 

^ Spec. Perfect, cap. 18. 

3 This exception was retained in the Regida Prima of 1221, cap. viii. ; but 
is not mentioned in the Rule of 1223. 


mind money was the symbol of that world from which 
Poverty had set the brethren free, the world of barter and ' 
gain, of avarice and usury and of the hatreds which rose 
therefrom. It was, moreover, as he saw it, a sort of charter 
of possession in the things of the earth ; it gave a man a lien 
upon and in some way bound him up with the material world. 
The man who has money, holds the earth in bondage ; his 
money thrusts him between God and God's creatures, and too 
often he prostitutes the earth which is God's to his own 
selfish pleasure ; and that to Francis was an unholy thing. 
"The earth is the Lord's," expressed, in a very intimate 
phrase, the faith of Francis concerning the use man should 
make of the visible creation ; and whatever tended to blur 
that faith he abhorred with all the passionate sincerity of his 
nature. It was not that he had any theories against the right 
of private property : in fact he accepted that right so far as 
it concerned others who were not of his fraternity : that was 
their concern and the concern of the Church. But he grieved 
over the abuse of the right ; and in his dealings with men of 
the world who sought his counsel, he always insisted that 
their property was a trust put into their hands by the pro- 
vidence of God, not for their own benefit alone but for the 
benefit of all who were in need. But for himself and the 
brethren he held that God had set them free from this trust 
in order that they might more convincingly by word and ex- 
ample warn the world against the dangers and lust of wealth. 
The very existence of the brotherhood dependent upon the 
good-will of men for their bodily sustenance, would be a con- 
tinual reproach to the avaricious, and an invitation to those 
who held this world's goods to fulfil their trust in reheving 
the needs of the poor. 

Hence in sending the brethren out to beg he would say 


to them: "Go forth; for in this last hour the Friars Minor 
have been placed in the world that the elect may fulfil those 
things for which the Great Judge will commend them, say- 
ing : ' what you did to these My lesser brethren you did unto 
Me '." ' So long then as men of the world held their goods 
in the spirit of a trust and in charity towards their fellow- 
men, he found no fault with them: his protest was against 
the greed and avarice which he saw festering in the whole 
body politic of his day : and of that greed and avarice, money, 
in his eyes, was the token. In those times money was not 
the general means of barter for common daily needs, as it has 
become since. In the simpler arrangement of society a 
labourer's wages were more generally paid in food and the 
ordinary necessaries of life: money represented not so much 
his present need as his future store ; in a large measure it 
was the expression of a superfluity. As such it was apt to 
breed artificial wants and materialize the whole man : a danger 
which indeed seems inherent in money at all times, but which 
in those simpler days was the more apparent. Francis had 
himself experienced the danger ; he had known the fascina- 
tion of comfort and luxurious living which grows upon a man 
to the dimming of his spiritual sight when the road to 
luxuries is opened by a ready purse. He knew too by ob- 
servation of the world in which he had lived, the brutal arrog- 
ance and love of power which money is apt to breed in those 
who have it. And all these things made him regard money 
as a peculiarly unholy possession which not only clogged 
the soul in its more spiritual movements, but tended to de- 
humanize both heart and mind : hence the disdain and almost 
virulent reproach with which he came to regard it. Francis, 
as you must have seen already, was not of the race of 

'II Cclano, 71. Of. Malt. xxv. 40. 


philosophers who stand aloof and take the world as a rnere 
mental problem. His philosophy was all bound up with his 
own vocation and duty; he was consecrated to free the world 
from the tyranny of the greed and avarice of wealth ; and 
as money was the actual weapon with which this tyranny 
prosecuted its reign he held it as de facto the devil's snare. 
One must understand that in order to understand Francis 
and why he would not allow the brotherhood even to touch 
the unholy thing. Thus one day a visitor to the chapel of 
the Porziuncola, left behind him on the altar a coin. A 
brother finding it there, took and threw it into a chest near 
the window ; not, it would seem from the legend, altogether 
in contempt but with an eye upon future use. Francis, 
hearing what he had done, was much angered, and the 
brother in alarm threw himself upon his knees before him 
"offering himself even to stripes". It was seldom that 
Francis uttered a harsh word, but now he " chided right 
bitterly ". As a penance he bade the brother go and take up 
the money in his mouth, as beasts do, and carry it in this 
fashion outside the enclosure of the Porziuncola and cast it 
on a dung-heap. '^ 

The brethren came to feel with him in this matter of 
money and to have the same unreasoning reason; as was 
shown in the case of a young brother who thought to mock 
at the solemn conviction of an elder. They were going one 
day to the leper hospital when they came across a piece of 
money lying in the road. The elder would have passed on 
unheeding, but the younger picked it up and said it would 
be of use in assisting some poor leper : but he said this not 
so much out of compassion for the leper as in derision of the 
other's scruple. But hardly had he touched the coin when 
1 1 Celano, 56 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 15. 


he remembered Francis' warnings and presently he was struck 
with a great fear and began to tremble violently. He tried 
to speak, hut was tongue-tied with fear; and it seemed to 
him that the piece of money was nothing else than an evil 
genms. With a great efTort he at length cast it from him 
and the spell was broken. Then in great contrition he knelt 
before his companion and begged pardon, and recovered his 
peace. ^ 

But perhaps the most marvellous thing about the Porziun- 
cola was the simplicity of spirit of the men who gathered 
there. In that holy place it was as though one had come 
into an atmosphere of absolute truthfulness where no guile 
or conceit could continue to live. The brethren constantly 
strove to know themselves as they were and to appear before 
men for what they were. There was with them no pious 
dissimulation such as is sometimes justified by religious 
people on the plea of edifying their neighbour. In fact, so 
far wer3 they from seeking to edify by deceit that they had an 
almost exaggerated anxiety that people should know their 
weaknesses and faults, especially after men began to respect 
them as saints. Thus once when Francis was sick he was 
persuaded by the brothers to eat of some fowl they had pro- 
cured for him. Afterwards, however, he feared that he had 
been too self-indulgent, and knowing that the citizens esteemed 
liim a man of austere life, he was struck with remorse. 
Taking a brother he went into the city. At the city's 
gate he took his cord and put it around his neck and bade 
his companion lead him by the cord through the streets in 
the way that criminals are led, meanwhile crying aloud : " Be- 
hold a glutton who fattens on fine fowl whilst you think him 
to be fastnig ".^ 

' II Celano, 66. » I Celano, 52. 


Any unwonted show of reverence towards the brethren 
filled them with alarm or repugnance. Thus one brother 
when sent to establish a house in Bologna, came hastily 
back to the Porziuncola because the people in that city treated 
him as a saint ; ^ and another, when met at the gates of 
Eome, by a procession of worthy folk who came out to do 
him reverence, turned aside and joined soine children in a 
game of see- saw, until the waiting worthies turned back in 
disgust.^ Not uncommonly in preaching they would confess 
openly their own sins lest people should take them to be as 
holy as the doctrine they preached, or because in their simple 
sincerity they desired the prayers of the people for their own 
salvation. Amongst themselves if one happened even to think 
injuriously of another, he would afterwards confess his thought 
and beg the other's pardon.' 

So utterly guileless were they, that they could not credit 
that others were not as truthful as themselves in word or 
action. They believed the best of all men and were not easily 
brought to think evil of a,nj. Thus there was a secular priest 
to whom some of them were accustomed to go to confession. 
He was unhappily a man of ill-fame ; but the brethren could 
not be got to beheve him other than he appeared, nor would 
they leave off making their confessions to him.'' 

But this was perhaps partly out of their reverence for 
the priestly office. In every priest they saw only the priestly 
dignity in which was reflected the majesty of Christ, and with 
all reverence they would kiss the hand which had held the 

^ Actus S. Franc, cap. i ; Fioretti, cap. i. 

^Fioretti, Vita di Frate Ginepro, cap. 9. 

8 1 Celano, 56 ; 3 Soo. 43. See also what Eccleston says ot the truth- 
fulness which characterized the English friars, in De adveiUu, ed. Little 
col. V. p. 30. 

* I Celano, 46. 


Body of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.i They 
were not given to sitting in judgment upon any man : they 
were too conscious of their own defects in the sight of the 
holiness of God easily to find fault with the personal conduct 
of others : they kept an open eye only for the good in men's 
actions, which they took gratefully as food for their own souls. 
But the word of a priest was to them almost as the law ot 
God, such was their reverence for him. Thus once when a 
priest said to a brother: "Beware of hypocrisy, brother," 
the brother was much troubled, thinking that the priest 
had detected in him a hypocrite. Some other brothers en- 
deavoured to console him, but he replied : "A priest cannot 

Thus were the brethren trained in the wisdom of Poverty ; 
and the Porziuncola came to stand in the eyes of men as the 
home of a new peace. To some it seemed as though the 
radiance of Bethlehem and Nazareth had again broken 
through the clouds which encompassed the world and was 
flooding the plain below Assisi with a clear and joy-giving 

1 Cf. Testamentum S. Franc. : Nolo in ipsis considei-are peccalum," etc. 
- 1 Celano, 46; of. Vita Fr. JBgidii in Ohron. xxiv. Gen. ; Ajial. Franc. 
111. p. 79 


THE POBZIUNCOLA (continued). 

They were heroic days, those first years at the Porziuncola ; 

and the men who were formed there at that period were more 

or less of the heroic type ; at least as a body. In those days 

the brethren had no doubt or hesitation as to the wisdom of 

their life. Francis' word was their law ; and as yet the 

difficulties and problems of a world-development had not 

come to disturb the harmony of the fraternity. Their thoughts 

were borne upon the wings of their spiritual desire far above 

the earth. The world's prudence and its conventions were 

nothing to them, not that they defied the world on its own 

ground but simply because they moved in another sphere of 

thought where these things have no part. No man could 

claim a place in the ordinary economy of the world and yet 

act as they acted. It was an evidence of the inherent 

idealism of the Church that their life was approved at all. 

We shall see later on what difficulties arose when it became 

necessary to bring the fraternity into some sort of relationship 

with the established traditions and the wider policy of the 

Holy See. But these difficulties had not yet arisen and the 

brethren of the Porziuncola were still living in undisturbed 

liberty of soul. The world looked on and wondered. At one 

moment it might revile the brotherhood as an outrage upon 

the conventions and their wisdom ; the next moment it was 



on its knees begging pardon, being won by some subtle grace 
it could not long withstand. 

What, for example, could the world make of a man like 
Brother Juniper ? Yet it respected and loved him in spite 
of itself. This Brother Juniper was one of the types bred at 
the Porziuncola, if one may speak of types in a community 
where every member retained a remarkable freshness and in- 
dividuality of character. But he was typical of a certain 
childlike naiveti which came in a greater or lesser degree to 
all the brethren in their new vocation. In some it was com- 
bined with a shrewd knowledge of the world or with a native 
dignity of bearing or with a high natural intelligence : but all 
in some measure were endowed with it. They all had some- 
thing of the open-eyed wonder and the intentness on the 
present moment which is characteristic of early youth. 

Brother Juniper himself was naturally of a naive disposi- 
tion and a man in whom warm feeling was more potent than 
calm reason. He was impulsive and given to acting upon 
the idea of the moment ; but he was utterly without a 
thought of self. He would have died smiling and unconsci- 
ous of personal merit, for the sake of saving another man pain 
or to bear witness to the faith which was in him : and for this 
reason Francis esteemed him a very flower of the fraternity. 
" AVould that I had a forest of such junipers ! " he once ex- 
claimed when Juniper had perpetrated some gaucherie. His 
very indiscretions were redeemed by his absolute sincerity 
and selflessness ; so that the old chronicler dwells delightedly 
upon his story as one who would say : " See what a simpleton 
he is and yet we love and worship him ". AVho in fact could 
fail to love a man who, being somewhat intemperately re- 
proved by his superior, is wholly unconcerned about his own 
humiliation but much concerned because the superior, in re- 


proving him, had developed a sore throat? That happened 
in Juniper's case after the death of Francis, and the superior 
was one who did not appreciate simphcity as Francis did. 
On the evening of his reproof Juniper went into the city and 
obtained the materials for a good pottage of flour and butter. 
When the night was well advanced there was a knock at the 
superior's door, and, on the door being opened, there stood 
Juniper with a candle in one hand and the steaming pottage 
in the other. " My father," he said, " when thou didst re- 
prove me for my fault, I saw that thy voice grew hoarse and 
I ween it was through overmuch fatigue. Therefore I 
thought of a remedy and made this mess of pottage for thee." 
The superior was only the more angered at being disturbed 
and bade him begone. Juniper, however, was full ot pity 
and still stood there endeavouring to persuade the superior 
to eat the pottage ; but without avail. At length, seeing that 
the superior would not eat. Juniper said : " Then if you will 
not eat, my father, I pray thee do this for me : hold the candle 
and I myself will eat it". The chronicler adds that the 
superior " being won by Brother Juniper's piety and simplicity, 
was no more wroth, but sat down and ate with him ". Much 
the same thing happened frequently as between the brothers 
of the Porziuncola and the outer world : men might criticize 
this or that action, but the spirit in which it was done, made 
them captive. It was this Brother Juniper who played see- 
saw with the children outside the walls of Kome whilst the 
procession of people waited impatiently to do him honour. 
Another lesson, learned at the Porziuncola, Juniper carried 
out to the letter, namely, that of never refusing an alms to 
the poor, if there was aught to give. In after years when the 
brethren had convents built for them. Juniper could never 
be taught that the books and the furniture of the convent 


must not be given away. He so frequently gave away his 
own clothing that the superiors at length strictly forbade him 
to part with his tunic, however poor a beggar might be. One 
day after this, meeting a beggar on the road and having 
nothing to give, Juniper said to him : "My superior has for- 
bidden me to give away my tunic, but if you take it from 
me, I will not say thee nay " ; and the beggar straightway 
stripped him of his tunic. 

In which matter of intemperate giving, as some would 
call it. Juniper had a compeer in Francis himself. For once 
at the Porziuncola, when a poor woman came there begging, 
and there was nothing else to give her of any value, Francis 
gave the only book of the Gospels the brothers had. 

Yet another incident in Juniper's story must we relate, as 
witnessing to the Porziuncola spirit. In his later days he had 
as a companion a brother of kindred disposition to his own, 
a Brother Amazialbene, whom he loved very dearly because 
of his admirable patience and obedience. Now, says the 
chronicler. Brother Amazialbene died, and Juniper, hearing 
of his death, felt such sorrow as he had never felt in all his 
life before. In his great bitterness of sorrow, he cried out: 
" Woe is me ! wretched man that I am, for now is no good 
thing left to me, and the world is undone through the death 
of mj^ sweet and dearest brother Amazialbene ! " Pondering 
upon his loss, he said ; " If it were not that I should not be 
able to have peace with the brothers, I would go to his grave 
and take up his head, and out of his head I would make two 
porringers ; one of which I would always eat out of, in 
memory of him and for my devotion's sake ; and out of the 
other I wtuild drink whenever I was thirsty and wished to 
drink ". 

Such was Juniper, one of Francis' paladins ; but whom 


the Lady Clare, who held him in high reverence, aptly styled : 
" The plaything of God ".^ 

Another typical knight of this company of Poverty was 
Brother Masseo, whom Francis held as a true Friar Minor 
because of his " gracious aspect and natural good sense and 
his fair and devout eloquence " ; a different character, as you 
see at once, from the artless Juniper. Francis would often 
take Masseo with him on his journeys because when Francis 
himself was inclined to keep silence and to pray, Masseo 
would hold the people apart and preach to them ; and since 
he was of handsome appearance and ready speech, people 
listened to him wilhngly. He was a singular combination of 
practical common sense and docile humility. 

On one occasion master and disciple were on a journey 
and they came to cross-roads, one leading to Florence, an- 
other to Arezzo and a third to Siena. Masseo, who was 
walking ahead because Francis wished to be alone to pray, 
on coming to the cross-roads stopped and called back : 
" Father, by which way are we to go?" "By that which 
God shall will," came the reply. " But how can we know 
the will of God?" asked Masseo. Francis answered : "By 
the sign I will show thee. Wherefore by the merit of holy 
obedience, I command thee that in the cross-road where 
thou art now standing, thou turn round and round as chil- 
dren do and cease not turning till I tell thee." Masseo did 
as he was told, whilst Francis prayed to be led as God willed. 
Suddenly Francis cried out : " Stand still and tell nqe towards 
what quarter thy face is now turned ". Masseo replied : 
"Towards Siena". "That is the way," replied Francis, 

' Conceraing Bro. Juniper, vide Vita Fr. Juniperi, in Ghron. xxiv. Gen., 
Afial. Franc, in. pp. 54-65 ; Fioretti, Vita di Frate Ottiepro ; De Gonformit. in 
dnal. Franc, iv. pp. 245-48 et passim. 



"God would have us go." So they resumed their journey, 
Masseo going ahead as before, but wondering in his own 
mind why Francis had made him play the child before the 
folk who were passing by. They came to Siena and were 
lodged in the bishop's house. There was a feud raging in 
the city at the tune, and no sooner had Francis heard of it 
than he went out into the city and preached to the people, 
beseeching them for the love of God, to have peace amongst 
themselves ; and at his pleading the citizens put aside their 
quarrel and made peace with each other. On their return to 
the bishop's house the friars were received with great honour. 

But Francis' humility took fright at so much respect, and 
early the next morning he woke up Masseo and, without a 
word to anyone, stole out of the house and went his way. 
As they went along Masseo was much troubled at what 
see)ncd to him a lack of discretion and courtesy on Francis' 
part, and his mind rebelled against the way Francis had 
treated him on the previous day at the cross-roads also 
against this discourtesy to the bishop ; till suddenly he began 
to recall the wonder Francis had worked by his preaching in 
the city : and at that he was filled with remorse, and said 
to himself : " If an angel of heaven had wrought such 
wonders as did Brother Francis yesterday, it had not been 
more marvellous ; wherefore if he had bidden me throw 
stones I should have done it and obeyed, for the good ending 
of that journey shows that what he does proceeds from the 
working of God ". 

However in spite of the occasional murmurings of his 
" natural good sense," Masseo was profoundly simple and 
humble. He might not always be able to square Francis' 
proceedings with common prudence, yet he felt that Francis 
was nearer to God than most men and therefore he o-ave him 


a childlike obedience. That the way at the Porziuncola. 
The brethren were convinced that God was working His 
Will amongst them on new and mysterious hnes and that 
Francis was raised up to lead them in these ways : and that 
was why his word was their law. 

Brother Masseo it was who once edified the brotherhood 
by a notable example of humility ; for being a man of good 
natural parts, humility perhaps shone all the more brightly 
in him. One day Francis said to Masseo before all the 
brethren : " Brother Masseo, all these thy companions have 
the grace of contemplation and prayer; but thou hast the 
grace of preaching the word of God for the satisfying of the 
people ; wherefore that they may be able to give themselves 
to contemplation, I will that thou perform the offices of the 
door and of almsgiving and of the kitchen ; and when the other 
brothers eat, thou shalt eat outside the gate, so that when 
people come thou mayest satisfy them with good words of 

For some days Masseo performed these offices, making 
himself the servant of the household. But the other brothers, 
feeling the humiliation to which he was put, besought Fran- 
cis to allow them all to share the labour of the place. Francis 
thereupon called Masseo and told him that in consideration for 
the request of the other brothers, he relieved him of his duties. 
But Masseo answered : " Father, whatever thou dost lay on 
me, whether wholly or in part, I deem it altogether God's 
deed". At this Francis was glad and he preached to all the 
brothers a sermon on humility which greatly moved their 

One of the recorded sayings of Brother Masseo is this. 
Seeing that some of the brothers were bent on making pil- 
grimages to the shrines of the saints, Masseo remarked that 

10 * 


he thought it better and more useful to visit living saints than 
dead ones. For, said he, in the hving saints one learns the 
dangers and temptations they have to beware of and fight 

On another occasion he composed a chant v?hich he con- 
stantly sang. The brothers hearing the chant so frequently, 
asked him why he did not vary his song. He rephed : " Be- 
cause when a man has found a good thing, he ought not to 
change it ".^ 

Very different in character from the ever-ready Masseo 
was Brother Ruffino of the family of the Scefi of Assisi: a 
timid and shy man, silent and reserved and at times apt to 
be morose : hardly a man, one would have thought, to enter 
the joyous company of the Porziuncola. Yet beneath his re- 
serve there was a great gentleness and an entire sincerity. 
His timidity was the result of a highly-strung nervous tem- 
perament. And perhaps, because in the complexity of his 
own character Francis knew something of the self-torture 
and moodiness which come from sensitive nerves, he was 
usually very gentle with Ruffino. But in the case of Francis 
there was always a quick rebound from his depressions, a re- 
bound which Ruffino lacked. Nevertheless there was a cer- 
tain passive strength in this timorous, diflident brother and 
a sincerity of purpose which was in his case the basis of high 
spiritual attainment. Francis was wont to style him in his 
absence, Saint Rufiino. One thing Ruffino dreaded, and that 
was being sent to preach. If whilst on a journey he was told 
to address the people, he at once became incapable of utter- 
ing a word. One day Francis, wishing to cure him of his 

^ ConcerDing Bro. IMasseo, cf. Fioretti, capp. xi. xii. etc. ; Chron xxiv. 
Qen., Vila Fr. Massa-ei, Anal. Franc, in. pp. 115-21; Spec. Perfect cap 85' 
De Conforinit. in Anal. Franc, iv. pp. 193-7 et passim 


diffidence, commanded him to go to a church in the city and 
preach as the Lord should inspire him. Euffino begged to 
be spared the ordeal, alleging his incapacity, not without a 
certain obstinacy of opinion. Whereat Francis sternly re- 
proved his hesitation, and as a penance commanded that he 
should now go to the church, stripped of his habit and clad 
only in his breeches. One can imagine what the command 
meant to Euffino, but he went as he was told. 

The citizens, seeing him go through the streets, thought 
he must be mad, and the boys made sport of him : but Ruftino 
heroically went through with his task and in his nakedness 
came to the church and preached to the people there. No 
sooner, however, had Piuffino set out than Francis grew re- 
morseful at his own harshness, and in his southern fashion 
thus chided himself : " Son of Pietro Bernardone, thou vile 
mannikin, wherefore didst thou command Brother Euffino, 
one of the noblest citizens of Assisi, thus to go preaching, 
naked ? Please God, thou shalt have experience of what thou 
hast made another to endure"; and forthwith he stripped 
off his habit and set out for the city, clad only in his breeches. 
But one of the brothers, Leo by name, followed, taking with 
him both the habits of the two naked preachers. 

As Francis entered the church Euffino was addressing 
the people, speaking nervously and with difficulty. He was 
teUing them to put away deceit and fraud and to give every 
man his due. Francis waited until the other had finished 
and then himself mounted the pulpit, and preached so con- 
vincingly on the poverty and nakedness of Christ that the 
listeners all wept. And as the two brethren left the church, 
now clothed in their habits, the people crowded around to 
touch the hem of their garments. 

Euffino, however, was not always so docile. On one oc- 


casion he came to the conclusion tliat the Ufe of service 
amongst strangers and of preaching was not for him and that 
he would serve God more faithfully if he gave himself to 
prayer in sohtude, following the inspiration of his own soul 
and not the leadership of Francis; nor would he listen to 
what Francis had to say on the matter. He met all persua- 
sion by saymg that an angel of God had shown him the right 
path. So Francis went aside and began to pray. 

At first Euffino was relieved and elated when Francis 
turned aside, for it seemed to him as though a bright and 
glorious angel stood at his side ; and this he took as an en- 
couragement to go his own way. But suddenly the angel 
became an angel of darkness and Kuf&no was overwhelmed 
with confusion and dread, and running to Francis he fell at 
his feet in a swoon. Francis lifted him up and comforted 
him, saying half playfully, half sadly, " Brother Euffino, 
th(3u poor simpleton, tell me now in whom thou didst put 
thy faith ! " And Euffino drew nearer to Francis in spirit 
and promised to obey. 

So Euffino trod the high-road of Poverty more often in 
fear and hesitation than in gladness. But at the end he 
found his peace. He lived for many years after Francis had 
left the earth ; but when he was dying, his spiritual guide 
appeared to him in vision and gave him " a most sweet kiss " ; 
and in the comfort of that embrace Euffino met death joy- 
fully.^ Surely in this brother of the difficult temperament, 
did the spirit of the Porziuncola reveal itself in a mother-love, 

'Of. Fkirelti, xxix. xxx. ; Chron. xxiv. Gen., Vita Fr. Rufiiii, Anal. 
Franc, ill. pp. 46-54; De Co7ifo7-mil. in Anal. Franc, iv. 197-202 it passim. 
Ruffino was one of the companions called upon by the Minister General 
Crescentius, in 1244, to record in writing their recollections of St. Francis. 
Wadding [An^iale.^, ad an. 1210) puts the reception into the Order of Juniper 
Maaseo and Ruffino in 1210. 


pitiful and patient — that mother-love which alone can save 
such souls as that of Euffino from its latent despair, and 
transform its burden into heroic endurance and ultimate 

Of a happier and bolder cast of mind was Brother Giles, 
with whom we are already acquainted, he who followed Ber- 
nard da Quintavalle and Peter Cathanii in joining the company. 
In some ways he had the most original character of all the 
disciples : he certainly stands foremost in the group of all 
those who embraced the life of Poverty in the earliest years. 
So confidently did Francis regard him that he would have 
made him a law unto himself in his comings and goings and 
the choice of his dwelling-places, only that Giles would not 
have it so. Unlike Masseo who preferred living saints to the 
dead, Giles, for the first six years of his religious life, was 
given to making pilgrimages, now to this shrine, now to that. 
Thus he visited in turn St. James at Compostella, St. Michael 
of Monte Gargano, St. Nicholas of Bari and the Holy Land, 
besides his several visits to the tombs of the Apostles in Rome ; 
and wherever he went he carried with him the message of 
Poverty. He would always, even on his journeys, earn his 
bread by the labour of his hands. On his visit to the Holy 
Land, coming to the port of Brindisi, he had to tarry there 
some days, awaiting the sailing of a boat. Giles begged a 
pitcher and went about the town hawking water. At other 
times he made baskets of rushes and sold them for bread ; 
or he would carry the dead to burial, or assist labourers in 
the fields. Once when he was staying in Rome, he went out 
every morning after hearing Mass and gathered faggots in a 
wood, and returning to the city went round selling his bundles. 
But one day when he was returning with his load of wood, 
a woman wished to buy it of him, and a price being fixed 


upon, Giles carried the load to her house. The woman see- 
ing that he was a rehgious, gave him more than she had 
promised, whereat Giles said to her : " Good woman, I would 
not that the vice of greed should overtake me : therefore I 
will take no more than we agreed upon ". In fact he went 
away, leaving half the price behind him with the woman. 
"And at this," adds the chronicler, "the woman was filled 
with exceeding great reverence for him." 

But Giles had a certain sturdy shrewdness and indepen- 
dence even in his devotion. One day in the market place of 
Rome a man was calling for a labourer to beat his walnut 
trees. Giles offered himself; and that evening he might 
have been seen making his way back to the house of the 
brethren, carrying on his back a load of walnuts tied up in 
his habit, which he had stripped off for the purpose. It 
was his wages for the day. In the harvest time he would go 
into the harvest field with other poor people to glean the 
ears which were left by the reapers ; but on these occasions 
he usually gave his gleanings to the other poor : for he would 
not lay up any store beyond the day's need. Even when 
invited to stay in the houses of cardinals or dignitaries, when 
these great men began to court the company of the brethren, 
Giles insisted on going out each day to earn his bread. 

But one day, when he was staying with the Cardinal- 
Bishrip of Tusculum in Rome and it was raining heavily, 
the cardinal rallied him : " To-day at least you must eat of 
my table ". But he did not know the ingenuity of his guest. 
Giles sought out the kitchen, and finding it unclean, he 
bargained to clean it up for two loaves. But he always took 
care amidst his incessant labour, to find time for prayer. 

In the sixth year from his coming to the Porziuncola 
Giles retired to a hermitage near Perugia, and from this time 


he seems to have spent his days in one or other of the her- 
mitages associated with his name in the neighbourhood of 
that city, Fabrione, Monte Eipido and Cetona. But he re- 
mained true to his principle of earning his bread by the work 
of his hands. Often was his sohtude broken into by men 
who came from far and near to gather wisdom from his hps : 
for the fame of his wise sayings had gone abroad : and those 
who heard them would often commit them to writing for a 
better remembrance ; and in after years these writings were 
gathered together under the title: "The Golden Sayings of 
Brother Giles," and in the book in which they are gathered 
they may be read.'- 

Such were some of the men who formed the brotherhood 
in those first days at the Porziuncola. Others there were 
equally worthy of notice, of whom some are already known 
I o us in this history, like " the venerable Brother Bernard " ; 
and others there are who will take their places as our story 
proceeds. Notable amongst these is Brother Leo, the " pecor- 
ello di Dio," as Francis called him, because of his singular 
purity and simplicity ; a childlike soul, albeit a good scribe and 
useful secretary. Of others again but a passing memory has 
been recorded, though they were men for whose presence on 
this earth the world should be grateful. One such was 
Brother Simon. He spoke so sweetly of the love of God, 
that one who spent a whole night with him conversing on 
this subject, was surprised by the dawn ; for the night had 
passed as though it had been but a few minutes. And 
Brother Simon was, moreover, very compassionate towards 
those who were tempted.^ 

' Vide supra p. 66, note 2. 

^Gf. Fioietli, xn,. Wadding (Annales, ad an. 1210) pufca the reception into 
the Order ot Leo and Simon in 1210. 


Thus did the Porziuncola gather to itself men of diverse 
character and temperament, and what is more marvellous, 
whilst impressing upon all a generic family likeness, it left 
each man himself, fostering in each his own peculiar strength 
and nobility of spirit, as one cultivates in a fair garden many 
varieties of flowers. There was no moulding in a rigid 
groove : but the spirit of the place seemed to delight in the 
freshness each individual character brought to the riches of 
the whole and to treasure it as part of the secret of its joy. 
Francis indeed had no wish that all the brethren should be 
one external pattern. The true Friar Minor, he would say, 
scanning the perfections of the brotherhood, is Brother 
Bernard with his enduring faith and love of poverty ; Brother 
Leo with his smiplicity and purity ; Brother Angelo with his 
fine courtesy ; Brother Masseo with his gracious countenance 
and natural good sense and eloquence ; Brother Giles with 
his gift for contemplation ; Brother Euffino with his habit of 
continuous prayer ; Brother Juniper with his selflessness ; 
Brother John with his great strength of body and mind ; 
Brother PiOger with his surpassing charitj' for the souls of 
others ; Brother Lucido who in imitation of our Lord, will 
have no abiding place on the earth. ^ And this largeness of 
spirit was in truth one of the secrets which gave power and 
beauty to that Umbrian revival of faith. 

' Cf. Spec. Ferfect. cap. 85. This chapter is evidently a compilation of 
the traditional sayings of St. Francis. 



It was in the early spring of 1212 that the Lady Clare left 
her father's house and came to the Porziuncola and there 
vowed herself to Christ and Poverty in the presence of Francis 
and the brethren. 

Some writers of late years have woven around this inci- 
dent an air of uncertain romance as of an affection purified 
of grosser earthliness yet nevertheless earthly in its fibre. 
But they who have so written do not know either Francis 
or Clare. The point where their several affections met and 
linked their lives together, was beyond themselves, no other 
than the Lord Christ Himself. Him they both loved with 
a love which admitted of no other love less sacred and 

And they both loved the Christ in His earthly poverty and 
in His pity for the world ; and in this revelation of the Christ- 
life they both found the full response to their own desire. 
And in this they became as children of one birth ; such an en- 
tire sympathy did it create between them, and so intuitive 
an understanding did it give them of each other. 

Even before she knew Francis, Clare had been strangely 
drawn to the poor as to her own people : and when she and 
Francis met it was as two kindred souls recognizing each 
other. Their first meeting probably was during the Lent of 



1212. Francis had then returned from a series of apostolic 
missions in Tuscany and the country around Perugia and was 
again preaching in Assisi. The Assisians were now proud of 
theu- prophet and wherever he preached the crowds gathered 
to hsten. Clare was amongst them. Perhaps she had heard 
him before ; at any rate she would have heard of him. 

At this time she was in her eighteenth year.^ Her family 
was one of the noblest in the territories of Assisi, and besides 
their castle in the country they had a house in the city, but 
a few steps from the church of San Giorgio and from the Ca- 
thedral. Clare's father was of opinion that she ought to have 
been married before this ; but whenever he spoke of marriage 
she refused to listen or parried his questions. She had as yet 
no definite idea of the future which lay before her, but there 
was that in her soul which bade her keep her freedom : already 
she was thinking of the hfe wholly dedicated to Jesus Christ 
in virginal chastity. Even in her early girlhood her world 
had stretched beyond the earth into the realm of rehgious 
mysteries ; the call of the spirit had drawn her insistently 
apart amidst the ordinary pleasures and interests of her 
young hfe. Eegularly she would withdraw herself from the 
distracting claims which the family life made upon her, and 
retire to some secluded nook and recite the Paters which 
linked her so sweetly with God, her heavenly Father, and all 
the household of the saints. And as she grew in years she 

'According to Mariauo of Florence, Clare was born on 16 July, 1194. 
Tradition says that Clare's father belonged to the noble Assisiau family of the 
Scefi or Sciii and "was lord of Sasso Rosso, a castle on the slope of Monte 
Subasio (Cf. V. Locatelli, Vita di S. Chiara, p. 334). But the traditional 
association of her family with Sasso Rosso is open to question. Ortolana, 
Clare's mother, is, however, mentioned by name in the legend, where it is also 
said that she was of noble and knightly family. Cf. Legenda S. Clarie, ed. 
Franc. Pennacchi, p. xxix seq. 


became more and more as one living expectantly in the pre- 
sent She took her part in the common round of daily life ; 
learned to fulfil the duties which were proper to the daughter 
of a noble house, and submitted to her tire-woman's services ; 
yet not without an insurgent protest of heart as the time 
came when these things began to speak of the family's claim 
that she should strengthen the family's position by a becom- 
ing marriage. She had no intention of marrying for the 
family's sake : and when the Lady Clare made up her mind, 
her heart was with her mind ; and her heart was strong. 

Her education was that of her time and class : that is to 
say, she had an elementary knowledge of reading and writing 
was proficient in the art of fine needlework and knew how to 
order the domestic affairs of a feudal household. Probably 
she was conversant in some measure with the romances of 
chivalry — the literature of the period — from listening to the 
minstrels who visited her father's house ; and she would gain 
a large knowledge of the questions of the day from frequent 
intercourse with people keenly alive to the various topics of 
that stimulating age when politics and religious questions 
were brought from all quarters of the world and gained an 
actual value in the intense life of the commune. And so 
without being skilled in letters, as they would say in those 
days, Clare comes into this history as a woman of cultured 
mind. " She loved to listen to a well-prepared and learned 
discourse," says he who wrote her legend, "for she held 
that the kernel of doctrine, if encased in a shell of well- 
chosen words, is more easily discerned and more heartily 
relished." ^ 

■ Leg. S. Clarae, ed. Pennacohi, 37. The legend is published by the Bol- 
landista, Acta SS. die 12 Augusti, torn. ii. p. 742 seq. A critical edition was 
published in 1910 by Prof. Franc. Pennaochi from the Assisi MSS. CI. also 


But this discrimination in favour of discourses " well pre- 
pared and learned " was not so much a distinctively intellect- 
ual trait, as part of the general sensibility of her nature. She 
instinctively looked for the greater things of hfe— the things 
which really mattered : it was part of the deep sincerity of 
her soul and her large spiritual vitality. She could never be 
satisfied with weak compromises in a matter of duty, but 
neither would she fuss over details of conduct which were 
not of the essence of some vital principle. But with this 
direct vision for the things of real and enduring value, was 
combined a temperament emotionally eager for beauty, per- 
haps more for moral beauty than for physical. 

She loved flowers but it was because she found in them a 
figurement of the perfect soul. In her garden she nurtured 
the lily because it spoke to her of purity, and the rose because 
it spoke of love, and the violet because it is the flower of 
humihty.' Music had the power to cast her into a sheel 
ecstasy of spiritual delight." But her emotional sensibility 
never escaped the control of a mind which was eminently 
practical or of a will which was stayed about with loyalties to 
whatever won her reverence. Her loyalties were the mould 
into which a great strength of character flowed and took 
shape. Even the male folk of her family, hard-beaten soldiers 
bred of a line which had maintained itself and its possessions 
by the sword and brooked not readily any opposition to its 
claims,- — even these stood in some awe of this strong-willed 
daughter of their house. 

Fr. Paschal Robinson, Life of St. Clare, and Mrs. Balfour, The Life and 
Legend of the Lady Saint Glare, with Introduction by the present writer. 

' An old tradition says that Clare grew these three flowers in her tiny 
garden at San Damiano because they symbolized her three favourite 

■^Gf. Leg. S. Glaraj, 29; Actus S. Franc, cap. 42 ; Fiorctii, cap. 35. 


Perhaps it was partly because some sort of preternatural 
destiny seemed to hover around her ; for shortly before her 
birth her mother was one day praying for a safe delivery, when 
she heard a voice saying to her : " Fear not, woman ; for you 
shall bring forth a light whose rays shall enlighten the earth " : 
and because of this mysterious voice, when the child was born, 
she was baptized by the name of Clare, that is " the shining 
one".^ With such a mark of predestination upon her Clare 
was assured of a certain liberty as one touched by heaven 
and not altogether under the despotic paternal sway. And 
so as she grew up and showed an inclination to exercises of 
religion and the service of the poor, beyond the ordinary, she 
was let go her way. Very early the capacity for self- 
sacrifice which is inherent in strongly loving natures, showed 
itself in her. She would not give to the poor merely of her 
superfluous treasures or comforts ; but she would deny her- 
self of her needful food to feed them.^ And because of her 
marvellous sympathy and gentle understanding ways with 
them, the poor loved her and all the city was speaking of her 
true charity. 

So it was that Francis heard of Clare and how her heart 
went out to the poor and how wherever she went she seemed 
to bring the light of heaven with her ; and he instinctively felt 
for her a great reverence, as when one comes into the presence 
of the utterly pure. And there grew up in him a great desire 
to see and speak with this maiden in whom the purity and 
gentleness of God was so manifest, that he might win her 
wholly to the service of Jesus Christ : " for he was wishful," 
siiys the old chronicler, " to snatch this noble prey out of the 
reach of a wicked world and to lay her, an illustrious trophy, 
upon the altar of God ". 

'Leg. S. Clarse, 2. ■'Ibtd.,3. 


Clare on her part, having heard Francis preach, was con- 
vinced that she had found the one guide to whose counsel 
she could wholly trust herself, and was praying in her heart 
that some opportunity would be given her of opening out her 
thoughts to him : for his sermons had given direction to the 
life-long desire, and she was thinking wistfully of a life of 
poverty and the love of God such as Francis and the brethren 
of the Porziuncola were dedicated to. But it seemed difficult 
to find the opportunity without arousing the suspicion of her 
kinsfolk, and that she must avoid if it were possible. She was 
too well aware that, however wide a hberty might be given 
her whilst she kept within the conventions of her rank, and 
was yet to be accounted an asset in the family alliances, any 
such desire as she now harboured would be regarded as 
treacherous to the family interest and honour. It was one 
thing to act the lady-bountiful and go amongst the poor dis- 
tributing alms ; that was the recognized privilege of the 
daughter of a noble house. Even to enter an established 
convent might present no insuperable difficulty ; there were 
convents which were, in some sort, appanages of noble 
families, and in a dignified fashion secured the patronage of 
heaven for the families whoso daughters were consecrated 
within their walls. But to break through all the recognized 
conventions and pass into the ranks of the poor and work for 
her bread or depend on alms in the casual way of the street 
beggar, as did the brethren at the Porziuncola — Clare had 
no illusion as to the attitude of her people to any such pro- 
posal. And yet it was that for which her heart was now 
becoming eager. 

It was Francis who made the opportunity for their meet- 
ing.^ He had already accepted, as from the hand of God, the 

1 Leg. S. Clara), 5. 


charge of this rare soul. The charge had come to him not 
from his own seeking but in one of those imperious illumina- 
tions of the spirit, to ignore which is to betray God. And at 
that moment the utter reverence which filled his soul banished 
all fear. Ever since his turning to the spiritual life, he had 
kept vigilant guard over even the most innocent attraction to 
the society of women. He had not allowed himself any 
friendship with them, however worthy they might be ; and 
even when as a messenger of the Gospel he had been com- 
pelled to give them advice concerning their soul's good, his 
words were few. Something in his own nature had bidden 
him take this watchful course ; but partly also it was dictated 
by his own special conception of the honour in which women 
should be held. "Every woman," he would say to his 
brethren, "is a spouse of Christ : with what fear and rever- 
ence therefore should we regard them." ^ 

The purity of woman was to him a dower of humanity 
emanating from the purity of the Eedeemer of men ; setting 
the mark of Christ upon human affections and human inter- 
course. He would not dishonour their purity nor sully his 
own by even a careless glance in which might possibly lurk 
a traitorous desire. For this reason he would not look them 
in the face ; and always spoke to them with eyes downcast. 

Only in the company of two women, the Lady Clare 
and the Lady Giacoma di Settesoli, did Francis relax 
this rule.^ The one became a ministering Martha to the 
brethren, as we shall see in the progress of this history : but 

' Cf. II Celano, 113-14. 

= C{. II Celano, 112. Celano docs not explicitly state that the two women 
to whom Francis referred were St. Clare and the Lady Giacoma ; hut there 
can be little doubt as to their identity. They were the only two women with 
whom he had an established friendship. 



it was the Lady Clare who ministered to the spirit of the 
brotherhood. From the beginning she divined so instinctively 
the vocation of the brotherhood and so utterly worshipped 
it, and her every thought and desire seemed so formed by 
its innermost wisdom, that Francis and the brethren regarded 
her not as a disciple of the fraternity but as one set by God 
to witness to them the truth and sanctity of their vocation ; 
and they held her in high honour and pure affection because 
of what she was to them. 

But Clare on her part was wholly unconscious of merit, 
and accepted the reverence with which the brethren sur- 
rounded her as an indication of the nobility of their own 
souls ; and with a sweet lowliness would speak of herself 
as the little plant which Francis reared in the garden of 

So it was that Clare was not as other women to the fra- 
ternity, and that Francis in her company thought of no danger 
to himself or the brethren, but took her as a sacred trust 
whose very presence on the earth would lead men to the 
worship and love of Christ. 

After their first meeting, Clare visited Francis frequently. 
Perforce she went secretly unknown to her kinsfolk. It was 
not the occasion for nice hesitations. If one must needs 
seize one's liberty by violence, the blame is to those who 
make the violence necessary. Nor would her people them- 
selves have acted otherwise had it been a matter of their 
secular interest. For generations her kinsfolk had carved out 
their fortune by personal decision and maintained themselves 
by regard to their own interest : it was the tradition of every 
feudal household. And Clare in this supreme moment of her 

'Cf, neg. S. Glaree and her Testament, where the expression occurs; 
'■' planttiU B, P, Fi'ancisci ", 


own fortune acted as her father's daughter. She took her de- 
cision into her own hands. But for modesty's sake she made 
a confidante of one of her relatives, an aunt of Hke character 
to her own, who accompanied her on her visits and abetted 
her resolution.^ 

Prom, these meetings Clare returned home with increased 
longing to be free of the world, having in her heart " a vision 
of the eternal joys beside which the world appeared more and 
more contemptible ; and more and more her soul melted with 
a holy yearning to perfect her espousals with the heavenly 
King ". For " Francis acted as a faithful friend of the bride- 
groom," and Clare "listened to him with the utmost fervour 
of heart whenever he spoke of the love of Jesus " } 

The Lenten season was drawing towards its close when 
Clare took the irrevocable step. 

Palm Sunday* came, and all unknowing with what the 
day was burdened, Clare's family went to High Mass in the 
Cathedral at which the bishop was to bless and distribute the 
palms. For Clare it was her nuptial Mass and she dressed 
for it with more than usual care. The distribution of the 
blessed palms began, and her family approached the altar in 
their turn ; but Clare did not move with them : overcome 
with emotion, she remained alone in her place. Whereupon 
the bishop left the altar and came and put a palm into her 
hand. Not improbably he was in her confidence and thus 
kindly gave her encouragement. 

That night when her people had retired, Clare, still ac- 
companied by her faithful friend, left her father's house. 

Avoiding the common entrance, she went by a disused 
postern gate. The gateway was blocked by huge stones piled 

'Of. Wadding, Annates, ad an. 1238; A. Cristofani, op. cit. p. 92. 
2 Leg. S. Clara, 6. ^iq 1212 Palm Sunday fell on 18 March, 

11 * 


between massive posts, but Clare had strength that night, and 
with her own hands she cleared the gate and they passed out. 
They came to the Porziuncola, where Francis and the 
brethren, having recited matins, were waiting to receive her, 
holding lighted torches in their hands ; and there in the 
night-time Clare vowed herself to God, and Francis sheared 
off her hair as a symbol of her vow. And when the day 
dawned, Francis led her to the Benedictine convent of San 
Paolo at Bastia in the marsh, where the nuns offered her a 
shelter till Francis should find a home for her.^ 

That was how the Lady Clare fled from her father's house 
and came to the Porziuncola, trusting herself to the Provi- 
dence of the God she sought and to the guidance of Francis. 
From that day Clare became one of the brotherhood. But 
not without a further test of strength. The following day 
the peace of the convent of San Paolo was violently disturbed 
by an incursion of Clare's kinsfolk clamouring for her return 
and threatening to take her by force. At their coming she 
took refuge in the church ; and when they would have put 
hands on her, she unveiled her shorn head, and, laying hold of 
the altar, proclaimed her marriage with the service of Jesus 
Christ. Perhaps it was the old sense of awe at her predes- 
tination, perhaps her own calm strength, which stilled their 
threatening fury : for they went away, leaving her to the life 
of her choice. 

After a few days Clare bade farewell to the nuns of San 
Paolo and went to lodge in the convent of Sant' Angelo in 
I'anzo, situated on the slope of Monte Subasio little more 

1 The oonvent was destroyed in the fourfceenfh century to make way for a 
fortress, but the cliuroh still remains. Tiie marsh lias long since been drained, 
bastia, owing to its position iu the marsh, was known in early times as Tsola 


than a mile outside the city.^ Here when hardly a second 
week had passed since her own flight, she was joined by her 
younger sister Agnes, resolved like herself to leave the world 
and be wholly dedicated to rehgion. Agnes's coming was a joy 
to both; for between these two there was a rare mutual 
affection. Agnes worshipped Clare with an admiring love 
for a greater strength in which she herself became strong ; 
and Clare loved the clinging girl because of her sweet simpli- 
city and companionable spirituality of mind.- And each day 
since she had left her father's house Clare had yearned for the 
younger sister's companionship in her enterprise, and Agnes 
had found life joyless since Clare had fled: and in their 
prayers both had prayed that they might again be brought 
together. Then at the end of a fortnight, Agnes followed 
Clare's example and fled secretly, and so came to the convent 
of Sant' Angelo. 

But no sooner was her flight discovered than twelve of 
her kinsmen followed clamorously to the convent. Entering 
the chapel where the two sisters sought safety they, however, 
first spoke softly, thinking thus to win the young girl to re- 
turn home, but when their soft persuasions failed, they no 
longer stemmed their anger but seized her by the hair and 

1 The nuns of Sant' Angelo some years later removed into the city, and 
had a convent on the site of the present seminary ; but at this period they 
occupied the old convent outside the city, of which some ruins can still bo 
seen. It was situated not far from Sasso Rosso, the supposed ancestral home 
of Glare. Of. Vino. Locatelli, Vita di S. Cfeiara, pp. 40 1 ; Fr. Paschal Robin- 
son, Life of St. Clare , pp. 139-40. In 1238 the nuns of Sant' Angelo had 
adopted the Ugoline Rule — Sbaralea, Bull. Franc, i. p. 258. 

2 The character of Agnes reveals itself clearly in her charming letter to 
Glare which is found in Ghron, xxiv. Gen., Anal. Franc, in. p. 175. Agnes at 
the time of her flight was about fifteen years of age (Wadding, Annates, ad an. 
1253 ; Anal. Franc, iii, p. 177) ; but it will be remembered that this was a 
full marriageable age in those days. 


dragged her intemperately from the altar out into the open 
ground; then taking her bodily they thought to force her 
homewards. Above the din of their imprecations, the voice 
of Agnes called to Glare to come and save her. Clare, in the 
first moment of their violence had cast herself prostrate be- 
fore the altar, praying God to give her sister courage and to 
save her. Then with a renewed trust she rose up and hurried 
to her sister's rescue. 

She overtook them a little way down the mountain side. 
Agnes lay helpless on the ground ; for suddenly — whether it 
was that their fury had enfeebled them, or whatever the cause 
■ — these stout men found their burden too heavy for their 
strength and with a curse had flung her to the ground. One 
of them would have struck her in his rage ; but just then 
Clare appeared in their midst and demanded that they cease 
their violence and leave her sister to her care. 

And once again that strange power which Clare had to 
subdue people to her will, sent these men clamouring away. 
Then Clare took Agnes gently and led her back to the con- 
vent.^ And after that they were not again parted until 
Agnes was sent to be abbess of a convent at IMonticelli near 
Florence, some seven years later. And there she lived for 
more than thirty years, all the while yearning to be back 
again with Clare. But when Clare lay dying she sent for 
Agnes to come to her. Death did not separate them for long, 
for Agnes died three months after Clare, and was buried near 
her sister.^ 

Clare remained at Sant' Angelo until the following year ; 
and then to her joy Francis obtained for her from the Bene- 

1 Leg. S. Clar». 

^See the life of St. Agnes, in Ghron. xxiv. Gen., Anal. Franc, in. p. 137 
seg. ; De Cotiformit. in Anal. Franc, iv. p. 357. 



dictines of Monte Subasio, the use of the little church of San 
Damiano with the small house attached to it. The house was 
but a narrow comfortless building ; ^ but to Clare it meant 
home. All through the months at Sant' Angelo she was like 
a bride yearning for the liberty of her own house. She was 
very definite as to the ideal poverty to which she was vowed 
and eager for its freedom, even as she always would be. And 
what made San Damiano the more sacred to her, was that 
Francis in rebuilding it, had foretold that it should be the 
home of poor ladies consecrated to the service of God. Clare 
treasured all such indications of Francis' thoughtfulness for 
herself and her sisters that were to be : ^ they gave her a 
wonderful sense of security ; for adventurous and purposeful 
as she was, she confessed to herself her' woman's need of a 
strength other than her own, in alliance with which her own 
strength becomes more supple and free. It is a need to 
which every true woman confesses ; and in the noble sort it 
acts as a moral searchhght upon the characters of men, re- 
vealing the strong and the weak, the true and the unstable. 
At San Damiano, then, she settled ; glad that Francis had 
provided it for her ; and under her fostering care, San Damiano 
became a companion home to the Porziuncola, with just that 
difference which a woman's heart and hand will make of 
any house. And in a short while other noble ladies of Assisi 
made San Damiano their home too. 

Francis gave Clare no Eule of life ; he merely set before 
her the inspiration of absolute poverty and of trust in the 

^Tha convent of San Damiano Btill preserves many of its pristine fea- 
tures, and one may still see the refectory and dormitory and other rooms 
occupied by Clare and the sisters. The low narrow rooms speak eloquently 
of those first days of the Franciscan vocation. Cf. Ant. Cristofani, La Storia 
della Chiesa e Chioslro di S. Damiano. 

2 Vide Testamentum S. dam, in Texlus Orig. (Quaracchi), p. 274. 


infinite solicitude of God.^ For the rest, Clare shaped her 
daily course by the example of the brethren so far as a woman 
might properly go with them. She gave herself to prayer and 
manual labour ; - was helpful to the sick who came to her 
for comfort,^ and welcomed the brethren whenever they 
visited the sisters to discourse about Jesus Christ and the 
spiritual life.* Her daily bread was provided for partly by the 
produce of a small vegetable garden which she cultivated ; ^ 
partly by the alms which the brethren begged for her and 
her sisters, even as they begged for themselves. It was a 
simple homely life at San Damiano, filled however with keen 
spiritual interests and a vital delight in the vocation of holy 
poverty. That vocation meant to them a great liberty of soul ; 
and in whatever fashion the soul finds its hberty, it finds its 

'lu her Rule (cap. vi), Clare wrote: " Scripsit nobis formamvivendiin hunc 
modum," etc. But this " forma vivendi " can hardly be called a Rule in the 
ordinary sense of the word. It is merely a promise on the part of Francis to 
have a special care and solicitude for the sisters. But it states as a motive 
for this promise that the sisters have " chosen to live according to the per- 
fection of the Holy Gospel ". In the mind of St. Francis " the perfection of 
the Gospel " always meant absolute poverty. 

Concerning the development of the Rule of the Poor Clares see The Life 
and Legend of the Lady St. Clare, ul supra, Introduction, pp. 11-31. 

^Seo the letter of Jacques de Vitry, written in 1216, when he was passing 
through Italy. Referring to the Poor Clares he writes ; " Mulieres verojuxta 
civitates in diversis liospitiis simul commorantur nihil accipiunt sed de lahcfre 
manuum vivunt" (Sabatier, Spec. Perfect, p. 295). The words "nihil acci- 
piunt " probably refer to offerings and bequests such as other religious 
received. They cannot mean that the sisters did not receive alms of food and 
other necessaries. Vide supra, p. 113 ; vide Leg. S. Clarae, 37. 

' In the Leg. S. Clarse, 32, it is related that Francis was accustomed to send 
the sick to Clare to be signed with the sign of the Cross. But Blessed Agnes 
of Prague, a close imitator of Clare, used also to cook food for the poor 
and mend the clothes of lepers. {Acta SS. Mart. tom. I. p. 510). It is prob- 
able therefore that the sisters at San Damiano did similar acts of charity. 

J Leg. S. Clarffi, 37. =■ Of. Reg. S. Claras, cap. vi. 


paradise. The enclosure of San Damiano might be narrow 
measured by the yard-tape, but what did it matter to those 
who Hved constantly on the wings of a joyous faith and whose 
spiritual horizon was limitless as the heavenly love which 
was in their hearts? 

Even the very earth was not so strange to them now as 
when they lived in their fathers' houses : it was the earth 
which the gospel of Poverty was to purify and win back to 
the law of Christ. From their enclosure they followed the 
active apostolate of the brethren with an alert interest and 
solicitude, born of their love of Christ and the world which 
they yearned to see His : and in the brethren's apostolate 
they had their part ; if they might not go out to preach — for 
that was not a woman's work — they could pray, and besides 
that, they had to guard in their seclusion the sacred fire 
which the brethren were to spread abroad. There were times 
indeed when Clare envied the brethren their opportunities of 
spending themselves in carrying the Gospel to the infidels 
and those who knew not Christ ; and perhaps had she lived 
in other days, she might have been the foundress of a body 
of missionary women. ^ But the time for that had not yet 
come ; ^ and in any case the world may be grateful that Clare 
was kept to feed the beacon-fire of San Damiano with her 
heroic intensity of a pure spiritual longing; for indeed in no 
more effectual way could she have realized her own ideal of 

■ Cf. Wadding, Annates, ad an. 1251, where he relates how Clare on hearing 
of the martyrdom of the friars in Morocco in 1220, wanted to go herself to 
Morocco " to shed her hlood for Christ," but was restrained by Francis. 

2 At this period the Church did not favour the active ministry of conse- 
crated women, nor indeed for some centuries later. Owing to the oiroum- 
stances of the time enclosure became more and more the law of all convents 
of women. Cardinal Ugolino made enclosure one of the fundamental prin- 
ciples of his reform of religious houses of women. 


becoming " God's helpmate and the support and encourage- 
ment of the frail members of His meffable body,"i as all will 
admit who know the story of her life. 

Oftentimes in following out the history of the fraternity 
one asks oneself what course that history would have taken 
had that convent of San Damiano not existed ? And at such 
moments one is apt to think of that hillside enclosure as a 
lighthouse set in the sea and composedly flashing out its 
message of warning or comfort in the storm to the boats that 
pass by. For these years of early hopes and unwavering 
faith which as yet fold the brethren in a comforting embrace, 
must in the very nature of human affairs make way for the 
troublous years when faith will clash with earthly experience. 
For an association which embodies a vital ideal is much like 
a human personality : it has its youth when the ideal treads 
lightly upon the earth and the world mostly draws aside in 
indifference or admiration, not to impede the way. But as 
the youth's purpose becomes more tangible and his incipient 
manhood must be reckoned with, then the earth itself becomes 
more ponderous and the world demands its toll and, most 
difficult of all, the heart of the man himself is apt to be be- 
fogged by a consciousness of the earth and his simple delight 
in his ideal to be shadowed by conflicting interests. And 
that fate especially awaits the man or institution in whom 
there is the urgency to subject the world itself to the ideal. 
Those troublous years are not far ahead for the fraternity of 
poverty; and then the clear vision and indomitable loyalty 
of Glare in all that concerns the faith of the brotherhood will 
be a saving influence ; and San Damiano, a constant witness 
to the pure Franciscan spirit. 

' Vule Letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague, Acta SS. Mart. torn. i. p. 502 ; 
Mrs. Balfour, op. oit. p. 147. 


I^rom the first settling at Sail Damiano, Clare became in 
some measure an arbiter of the destiny of the fraternity, both 
by her decisive fashioning of her own life and that of her 
community, and also by the clear-sighted counsel she at times 
gave to Francis and the brethren. In her own household 
she would have no weak compromise with any principles 
which were not of a piece with her own vocation, at least in 
the things which mattered. In the first days this was easy 
enough to manage. But a new convent, and one that from 
circumstances promised to become a kindling light to other 
rehgious communities, could not long continue without 
ecclesiastical supervision : and then the difficulties began. 

Clare, with her practical good sense, early took the pre- 
caution to obtain from Pope Innocent III "the privilege," 
as it was termed, of absolute poverty,^ such as Francis had 
taught her to observe. That was in 1215, in which year the 
sisterhood became a canonical religious community.^ Exactly 
how this development occurred it is now impossible to tell, 
or whether it was due to the initiative of Francis or of the 
Bishop of Assisi or of some other prelate in authority. Until 
then, Clare had refused to assume any title or style of a re- 
ligious superior, in which she was but following the example 
of Francis himself ; but in 1215 she was compelled to take 
the office of abbess, though in her sweet humility she begged 
that another should be given the headship. Her troubles 
began four years later when Cardinal Ugolino, the Papal 
Legate for Central and Northern Italy, endeavoured to im- 
pose upon the sisters at San Damiano and its kindred sister- 
hoods — for by this time San Damiano had become the 

1 Testamentum B. Clarm, in Seraph. Legislat. Textus (Quaraoohi), p. 277. 
" CI. Life and Legend of the Lady St. Clare, Introduction, p. 20. 


exemplar of other communities of women — a Eule of his own 

These Ugohne Constitutions, as this Eule was afterwards 
styled, will be considered later on in this history : here it 
suffices to mention that they tended to form the sisters into 
a new order distinct from the Franciscan fraternity. Hence- 
forth until the day preceding her death, Clare's life was a 
long struggle to maintain her Franciscan prerogatives and 
her inclusion in the Franciscan family. 

With a gentle reasonableness in which there was no ran- 
cour, yet with an inflexible determination, she wooed the 
authorities to recognize her Franciscan vocation; and her 
persistency regained first one position, then another. At the 
time the Ugoline Constitutions were promulgated, Francis 
was in the East on a mission to the infidels, and the courage 
of the first protest fell upon Clare herself. Cardinal Ugo- 
lino, taking the sisters under his own jurisdiction, appointed 
a Cistercian monk to be their visitor or director, but even 
before Francis' return the Cistercian monk was replaced by 
a friar, Philip the Long, one of Francis' first companions." 

It is not an unlikely presumption, from what we know of 
the development of the contest, that Philip's appointment 
was an answer to the prayers of Clare. On Francis' return 
he took upon himself the direct guidance of the sisters at 
San Damiano,'' and this secured Clare and her own community 

' Cf. ibiJ. Introduction, p. 17 seq. The Ugoline Constitutions will be 
found in Sbaralea, Bull. Franc, i. pp. 2G3-7 ; also ibid. pp. 391-9; and again 
ibid. pp. 476-83, with the modifications of Innocent IV. 

- Cf. Sbaralea, Bull. Franc, i. p. 46; Ohron. Jordani, no. 13 in Anal. 
Franc, i. p. 5. 

^ Cf. Wadding, Annales, ad an. 1219. It is, upon present evidence, impos- 
sible to say how far the Ugoline Constitutions were observed at San Damiano 
during the life time of St. Clare. It is certain that in the the matter of fasting 
San Damiano observed the milder law given by St. Francis. (Cf. the third 
letter of St. Clare to Bl. Agnes of Prague in Acta Sand, die G Mart., torn vii. 


in the practice of absolute poverty, even if it did not give them 
the absolute right to it. But Francis did not claim any juris- 
diction over the other communities of Poor Ladies, and these 
remained subject to the Ugoline Kule, much to the grief of 
Clare herself. This perhaps vi'as the period when she suffered 
most acutely and had most need of her courage. Even Francis 
himself seemed weighed down by the troubles which had come 
upon the brotherhood in the process of its new developments ; 
and at one time he seems to have been ready in sheer weari- 
ness of spirit to see the links broken which bound San Dami- 
ano to the brotherhood ; but Clare in her sympathy with him 
understood, and her tenacious loyalty again saved the situa- 
tion.^ Francis, who had long abstained from visiting the 
sisters, was induced to visit them again : and in his last years 
Clare never lacked his advice and encouragement. At the 
end when he lay dying, his last message to her was to stand 
firm in the poverty she had vowed. ^ 

With that message vibrating in her soul, on the morrow 
of Francis' canonization, she claimed from Pope Gregory IX, 
who had been Cardinal Ugolino, a formal confirmation of 
the "privilege of most high poverty," granted her thirteen 
years before by Innocent III ; and Gregory acceded to her 
demand.* He had previously pleaded with her to accept 
some small property to secure the community against want ; 
and lest Clare should be hesitating because of her vow, he 
had offered her a dispensation. Clare had replied: "Holy 
Father, never shall I wish to be dispensed from following 

p. 507.) Gregory IX, in his letter Angelis Gaudiiim (Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. .34.3 ) , 
speaks of the customs observed at San Damiano as being contrary to the 
Ugoline Constitutions. 

1 Of. II Celano, 205 ; see also Fioretti, cap. xiv. 

^Cf. Reg. S. Claras, cap. vi. 

■'Cf. Seraph. Legislnt. Text. pp. 97-8; Sbaralea, Bull. Franc, i. p. 771. 
Life and Legend of the Lady St. Clare, Introduction, pp. 23-4. 


Jesus Christ ".1 Od another occasion too did Clare's swift 
decision cause Pope Gregory to retract his words. He had 
decreed that the friars should no longer, as had been their 
wont, visit the sisters of San Damiano, save those brethren 
who were sent to beg alms for them. On learning of this 
decree Clare met the brothers who came to do the questing 
for the sisters, and bade them go back to their minister and 
say that since the friars might not visit San Damiano to in- 
struct the sisters by their godly conversation and thus feed 
their souls, she would have no friar beg bread for their bodies. 
At that Pope Gregory revoked his decree." But it was many 
years yet before another Pope, Innocent IV, granted to alJ 
the communities of the Poor Ladies the same privilege which 
Clare had gained for herself, and not until then was Clare at 
peace. It was as though she lived the last years of her life, 
only to establish them all in their Franciscan birthright ; for 
she died two days after Pope Innocent IV afBxed his signature 
lo the Kule which she had caused to be written as the charter 
of their liberty.' In everything that did not infringe the 
essential character of the Franciscan life Clare had gracefully 
submitted to the will of the Pontiffs : she accepted the Ugo- 
line regulations save in the matter of poverty, though she 
tempered their rigidity with a gentle considerateness for the 
weaker sisters in matters of superadded austerities. But she 
was tenacious of the right of the sisters to be guided in the 
spiritual life by the brethren and to be considered as one 
religious family with them. Instinctively she knew that it 

' Leg. y. Clavtu, 14. 

"Leg. S. Glariie, .37. It is, howevei, doubtful whether Gregory IX intended 
the prohibition — that the friars should not visit the liouses of the Poor Clares 
without apo.stolio permission — to apply to San Damiano. He had already on 
Dec. 14, 1227, in liis letter Qiiotia Cordis (Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 36), committed 
the care of the sisters at San Damiano to the Minister-General, John Parenti, 
and his successors, witli a strict injunction to " bestow on them such care and 
solicitude as a good shepherd bestows on the lambs of the floct: ". The Pope's 
readiness to mend matters when St. Clare protested, favours the eouclusiou that 
John Parenti had given too rigid an interpretation to the bull Qiiy elonqati. 

"Cf. Sharalea, Bull. Franc, i. pp. 071-S ; Scrapli. Legislat. Text. pp. 49-95. 


was only in this union of the Franciscan family that the 
sisters would be maintained in their true character and life ; 
and instinctively too perhaps she felt that only in this union 
would the brethren themselves be kept loyal to the pure ideal 
of their founder. For none recognized more clearly than she, 
how surely the prudence of the world would beset the frater- 
nity and sow dissensions in its ranks unless it was kept stead- 
fast in the security of its owti faith and circumscribed by 
strong mutual charity. And so when dissensions did appear 
within the fraternity, Clare was not of those who widened 
the rift by intemperate argument. Utterly loyal she stood by 
the pure Franciscan ideal, and never wavered nor was un- 
certain in her witness to it : yet she was no partisan within 
the family. 

Much as she must have differed from the secular policy of 
Brother Elias, she would have him reverenced and obeyed 
as the minister of the whole Franciscan family.^ And per- 
haps it was that lofty spirit which soared above the rancour 
and clamour of the world's battles, which was the secret of 
her pov?er, and extorted admiration even from those whom 
she compelled to bow to her claims. Certainly Cardinal 
Ugolino worshipped the abbess of San Damiano with a father's 
affection for a favourite daughter and a client's love for a 
favourite saint ; ^ and Pope Innocent IV, who long withstood 
her appeals but eventually granted all her demand, would 
have canonized her on the day of her burial had not the 
cardinals protested against the appearance of unseemly hurry.'' 

When Clare at length died, twenty-four years after 

' Vide second letter of St. Clare to Agnes of Prague, in Acta SS. Marti;. 
vol. I. p. 505 ; Life and Legend of the Lady St. Clare, p. 144. 

2 Vide letter of Gregory IX to St. Clare in Chron, xxiv. Gen., Anal. Franc. 
III. p. 188. 

^Leg. S. Clarae, 47s 


Francis had gone to his rest, she left the community of San 
Damiano established in the pure observance of Franciscan 
Poverty and in the essential Franciscan life, and that whilst 
the brethren were still disputing as to the wisdom of the Eule 
which Francis had written. 

We have anticipated something of Franciscan history in 
order to show what manner of woman Clare was and what 
her coming meant to the brethren at the Porziuncola and 
how she brought to the fraternity a new element of strength. 

But in the imagination of the world outside her coming 
cast a new and tender glory over the religious revival which 
had already set in through the preaching of the brethren. In 
her the self-renunciation and endurance of the brethren which 
had compelled the reverence of the citizens, gained a more 
subtle and sublimated l)eaut,y. The purely heroic at the 
Porziuncola became the worshipful at San Damiano. There 
is no record of any harshness on the part of the people 
towards Clare and her sisters, but only of love and wonder- 
ment : their eyes turned towards the convent below the hill 
as they would have turned towards the home of Nazareth, and 
they mingled their willing services for Clare with an adoring 
homage. AVas not her mere touch suflicient to rid the sick 
of their maladies ? And did not the air seem purer and more 
morally wholesome because of her presence '? 

That was in fact the great miracle : from the convent of 
San Damiano purity radiated like sunlight over the whole 
country-side. Evil desire was shamed both in men and women. 
The women longed to be pure as Clare, and men learned to 
reverence their purity and to be pure themselves. " From 
every side," says he who first penned her story, " women ' ran 
to the odour of lier ointments ' ; ' virgins hastened after her 

'A quotation frfim Cant. i. 3, 


example to consecrate themselves to Christ ; married women 
lived more chastely ; young men in eager crowds, spurred on 
by the heroic example of the weaker sex, cast aside the allure- 
ments of the flesh." ^ And for that, more than for aught else, 
Clare was loved, because in an age which sang of chivalry, 
she gave to the world a vision of pure women strong in faith 
and fearless in loyalty. 

1 Leg. S. Clarae, 10. 




The Lady Clare had been but a few months with the nuns 
of Sant' Angelo in Panso when the news of the great victory 
of the Christian army of Spain sent a thrill of excitement 
through all Christendom. The Moorish power had been 
overwhelmed at Las Navas on 16 July. Innocent III had 
awaited the result of the campaign with anxiety ; ^ upon its 
issue depended much of his future policy. Now the pos- 
sibility of a new and successful crusade for the recovery of 
the Holy Land seemed nearer. It would be difdcult to 
over-estimate the effect of the news upon the minds of the 
more devout in every Catholic country. They received it 
gratefully as a sign of Heaven's favour, and as a nevs^ in- 
centive to give good service for the faith of Christ : for the 
infidels were the scourge of the Christian vv'orld sent as a 
punishment by God, because of the sin and indifference to 
religion amongst the Christian peoples. And the indevout 
were stirred too ; for the victory of Las Navas they knew 
would press forward the movement for a new crusade con- 
templated by the Pope. But to none did the good news 
come as a signal for action more emphatically than to 
Francis. He too was elated, as were all true Christians, at 

iCf. Innocentii III. Ecgest. lib. xv. 15 [ed. Migue], Epist. Quanta nimc 



this victory o£ the Cross : but through his elation there ran 
a swift pity for the infidel fighting against God. Perhaps 
in his simplicity he thought that so great a disaster would 
make them more ready to recognize their errors. At any 
rate he felt called to go and preach to them the faith of the 
Cross. And so it was that the battle of Las Navas became 
incidentally a factor in the evolution of the Franciscan 

Hitherto the journeyings undertaken by the brethren 
had not extended very far beyond the confines of Umbria. 
Francis himself had spent the greater part of the preceding 
year in evangefizing the northern borders of Umbria and 
also Tuscany, and in this latter province had established 
several hermitages and left small colonies of the brethren. 
At Florence he had received many novices into the frater- 
nity ; amongst them John Parenti, a Doctor of Laws, who 
many years later will succeed Francis as Minister-General of 
the Order. And here, too, he founded one of the first houses 
of the brethren outside Umbria ; for the citizens opened their 
hearts to him and gave him a small house near the church of 
San Gallo outside the city, where some of the brethren might 
dwell. He went too as far as Pisa, where at his preaching 
two young men begged to be allowed to join his company : 
they were Agnellus, the future leader of the brethren on 
their coming to England, and Albert who succeeded Agnellus 
as Minister-Provincial of the English Province and then be- 
came Minister-General of the Order.^ 

Yet it was chiefly in the country around Lake Thrasy- 
mene that Francis had worked that year. He had passed 
the whole of the great Lent in seclusion upon one of the 

' Cf. Wadding, Annales, ad an. 1211. 


islands in the lake — the Isola Maggiore ; ' then he went forth 
to evangelize the neighbourhood. 

So he came to Oortona and preached there. Now when 
the sermon was concluded a youth named Guy approached 
Francis and offered him a lodging in his house. He was 
a noble youth and very wealthy, but quite unspoiled by his 
possessions which he held as a trust for the poor ; and always 
he gave to the poor whatever he did not need for his own 
frugal maintenance. Francis gladly accepted his proffered 
hospitality. That evening Guy waited upon Francis and his 
companion as upon most honoured guests ; he washed their 
feet with reverence and himself served them at supper ; and 
when the meal was over he begged that they would consider 
his goods as their own and whenever they were in want of 
habits or anything else allow him to supply their need. Fran- 
cis was entirely won by the youth's open-handed generosity 
and his dehcate courtesy ; and when he and his companion 
were retiring to rest, he said : " My dear brother, this noble 
youth, who is so mindful of and grateful to God, and so loving 
and courteous towards his neighbours and the poor, would do 
well for our life and company. For know you, dear brother, 
that courtesy is one of the properties of God, who of His 
courtesy, gives His sun and rain to the just and the unjust : 
and courtesy is the sister of charity by which hatred is ex- 
tinguished and love is cherished. And because I have seen 
so much divine virtue in this man, therefore gladly would I 
have him for a companion." And at that Francis began to 

1 Vide Fiorctti, cap. VI. ; cf. I Celano, 60. Tradition points out a miracu- 
lous well on Isola Maggiore, which was granted to the prayer of Francis : " it 
is good for headaches," the fishermen of the lake will tell you. A convent of 
friars was later built on the island; the convent church now stands uncared 
for and desolate, since the expulsion of the friars about 1862. Many frescoes 
attributed to Gozzoli adorn the walls, but they are becoming hardly dis- 


pray that Guy might become one of the fraternity. Guy 
meanwhile felt a keen desire not merely to befriend his guests 
in their needs but to be one with them in their life, and 
shortly afterwards he came and cast himself on his knees 
before Francis, asking to be admitted into his company. So 
he distributed all his goods to the poor, and afterwards in the 
public church received the habit of Poverty. 

Now some little distance from Cortona, at the foot of the 
high hill on which the city is built, and on the other side 
from the low ground which stretches out to Lake Thrasymene, 
there is a gurgling rivulet which comes from the mountains, 
passing down its rocky course through a deep ravine ; and by 
the side of this rivulet there were then some rock caves. 

Hither Francis and Guy now betook themselves, and 
made a narrow hermitage so near to the rivulet that its 
waters sprayed the walls of their caves. ^ And there Guy 
made his abode until his death many years later. He divided 
his days between prayer and manual work, even when after 
a time he was ordained priest by obedience. Now and then 
he interrupted his life of contemplation and climbed the long 
hill and preached to the people of the city : but it was mostly 
by his life that he preached to them : and the Celle — the caves 
in which Guy and his companions lived — became a constant 
admonition to the citizens, of the life which is beyond this 

1 In the present friary of the Celle, one is still shown the original cave- 
hermitage ; but additions were made to the original building by Brother Elias, 
the Vicar - General of St. Francis, and later on by the Capuchins in the 
sixteenth century. As it stands, however, the Celle is one of the few remain- 
ing convents of the Order which retain the primitive character of Franciscan 
" loci ". Even the latest additions are in keeping with the earlier buildings. 

^Cf. Acta SS. Vita B. Guidonis, die 12 Junii, tom. ii. p. 601 seq. It 
is probable, as J. Jorgcnsen has pointed out, that Guy is the hero of the story 
related in the Fioretti, cap. 36, 


At Gortona, too, about the same time that Guy entered 
the fraternity, Francis is said to have received another pos- 
tulant — one whose name will become famous in the years 
that follow : more famous than that of Guy, but not so blessed 
— Brother Elias, of whom we shall hear mucli before the close 
of this story.' 

Francis also evangelized the district to the south-east of 
the lake, and left remembrances of his tour in the hermitages 
he established for his brethren at Cetona and Sarteano in 
the mountains." It was at Sarteano that Francis endured 
and overcame a great temptation. For one night whilst he 
was in prayer he was tempted to repent him of the life of 
penance he had undertaken, but immediately arousing him- 
self he cast away the thought. But to that temptation there 
succeeded another, and though Francis scourged himself till 
his body was discolouiel and wealed, yet the temptation per- 
sisted. It was then winter and the hillside was covered witli 
snow. Unable by scourgings to subdue his recalcitrant body, 
Francis rushed out naked into the snow and builded up 
seven snow heaps. Then in his southern fashion he turned 
upon himself, exclaiming : " That large heap is thy wife, those 
four are thy two sons and two daughters, the other two are 
thy manservant and maidservant. Make haste to clothe 
them all for they are dying of cold." Thus he continued to 
make mockery bravely of his temptation, until starved with 
the bitter cold, he retorted upon himself : " If the care of them 

' The Vita B. Quidonis, loo. oit., says that at the Celle, Francis also 
1 ooeived Elins de Villa Ursaria. Wadding, Annales, ad an. 1211 takes this 
Elias to he the Brother Elias so famous in Eraneisoan history. It is how- 
everdoahtful ; for Elias, the Vicar-General, was more probably born in Assisian 
territory [vide infra, p. 250). 

2 Tradition puts the establishment of these hermitages in the beginning 
of 1212. Cf. Wadding, Annales, ad an. 1212, ' 


thus troubles thee, betake thyself to serve God only ". The 
temptation vanished and Francis returned to his cell thank- 
ing God.i 

Meanwhile others of the brethren were carrying the 
message of Poverty to other cities and districts. Brother 
Bernard da Quintavalle had been sent to Bologna, where 
scholars from all garts of the Italian peninsula crowded the 
law-schools for which the city was famous throughout all 
Europe. It was a somewhat bold adventure to carry the 
Gospel of simplicity and unworldliness into the midst of this 
active world of youthful intellectual ambitions and conceits : 
and surely it was the imperious instinct of destiny which took 
the brethren thither, as an invading army must make for the 
strongholds of the country invaded. For nowhere was the 
spirit of the world in more direct contrast with the spirit which 
created the fraternity than in the law-schools of Bologna. 
There the wisdom of the heart wholly docile to the word 
of Christ, which was the only wisdom Francis valued, was 
wholly at a discount. Men did not go to the schools to learn 
the truth of life or how to live as Christians should who 
have eternal souls to think about : indeed most of the 
scholars would have laughed at the very notion. Know- 
ledge was to the student what bales of cloth were to the 
merchant, a commodity for making one's way in this world 
and getting, if need be, the better of one's neighbour. The 
very atmosphere of the schools breathed a subtle materialism : 
intellectual conceit and pedantry were its ordinary products : 
affectation of intellectual superiority went hand in hand with 
a callous brutality and licentiousness. 

To Bologna, then, the grave and courteous Bernard da 
Quintavalle had gone, having first commended his journey to 
1 11 Gelano, 116. 


the Lord Christ his Master. He was received as an object 
of sport by the students and citizens. When he appeared in 
the streets he was mobbed and ill-treated. But in the end 
his meekness and constancy came out victorious. An in- 
fluential citizen, who was also a doctor of laws, one named 
Nicholas di Pepoli, won by the evident'holiness of the ill-used 
friar, befriended him and gave him a lodging, and after a 
time established the brethren in a house just outside the city. 
And Bernard came to be reverenced by the people as a saint, 
until in his humility he fled away, more fearful of the 
honours than of the ill-treatment. Appearing before Francis, 
Bernard said to him : " The house is founded near the 
city of Bologna ; command the brothers that they maintain 
it and stay there ; but I have no more profit there because of 
the too great honour which is paid me : for I fear I should 
lose more than I should gain ". So Francis sent other 
brethren to Bologna, and these in time spread the fame of 
the fraternity throughout all Lombardy.^ 

Thus had Francis and the brethren exercised themselves 
in their vocation, when, as we have said, the victory of Las 
Navas set men thinking of the crusade, and turned the 
thoughts of Francis towards the conversion of the infidels. 

It was not in his character to make any elaborate pre- 
paration for a new adventure. When a knightly service 
called him, he as true knight must obey. Nor indeed was 
there any need for delaying preparations. The weapons of 
his warfare were always ready, his pity for men who knew 
not God and his own fervent faith. Ilis mission, he would 

' Cf. Vita Fr. Bernardi in Chron. xxiv. Gen., Anal. Franc, m. pp. 36-7; 
Actvs S. Franc, cap. 4 ; Fioretti, cap. 4; Wadding, Annales, ad an. 1211- 
Vide Acta SS. mense Oct. torn. ii. p. 813 seq. ; Hilarin de Lucerne Eistoire 
des Eludes, p. 132. 


always aver, was that of herald or messenger of the Divine 
Eedeemer : when he had delivered his message and won men 
to the Christ-like life he must leave it to others — the clergy and 
rulers of the earth — to organize and govern Christ's kingdom. 

So with just his faith and pity he set out on this mission 
to distant lands as he had undertaken his journeys in Catholic 
Italy. After all, God would be with him whether he was 
amongst Christians or infidels. And if the infidels would 
not be won by his preaching and he must attest his faith by 
martyrdom, as very likely would happen were God to grant 
such grace to his unworthiness, he would die the better for 
the simplicity of his obedience to the call. It might seem 
strange to those who do not know Francis, that he thus un- 
hesitatingly set out for a far-off land, prepared to die on his 
quest, whilst yet the fraternity was hardly established. But 
Francis did not look upon himself as necessary to the 
growth of the brotherhood. God could foster His own work 
and raise up another leader for the guidance of the brethren. 
The one thing which mattered was that he should obey 
the Divine will and set the brethren an example of knightly 
fidelity to the vocation in which they were called. 

It was probably in the autumn of 1212 that he took boat 
for Syria, sailing from Ancona. But this true call of his 
spirit — for true it was, as we shall see — was not to be ful- 
filled in so direct a fashion. Hardly had they set sail when 
a storm arose, and the vessel, driven out of its course, was cast 
upon the coast of Dalmatia. There for a time Francis and 
his fellow-passengers were stranded. It was now impossible 
to proceed to the Holy Land ; there was even a difficulty in 
getting a return passage to Italy. Francis had no money to 
pay his way and the masters of the boats in those parts, did 
not appreciate his plea of poverty. Eventually when all per- 


suasion proved fruitless, Francis had recourse to the stratagem 
of the needy. He and his companion were smuggled on 
board a vessel about to sail, vs^ith the connivance of one of the 
crew, who also undertook the care of a plentiful supply of 
provisions which a timely friend provided for the brethren's 
use. And this forethought proved of greater advantage to 
them than was at first designed. For the weather being 
still stormy the boat was long delayed on its journey so that 
the sailors ran short of food : but Francis shared his provi- 
sions with them and thus won their hearts, and by the time 
the boat reached the port of Ancona, Francis had found a 
reverent audience who listened willingly to his fervent dis- 

Thus his first endeavour to reach the infidels resulted 
only in his evangelizing the crew of a ship, at least so far as 
the result was then visible. But as in much that Francis 
did, the value was not in the immediate achievement ; it was 
rather in the inspiring idea. That yearning of his soul 
towards the strangers who stand outside the kingdom of 
Christ will remain with him all through his life, and send 
him forth again in attempts to win them to the Gospel of 
his Lord ; and all his attempts will seem fruitless of their 
purpose : and yet they will set in the heart of the Christian 
world a new policy towards the peoples whom all Christen- 
dom regarded only as the enemies of the Cross. 

The crusades had indeed been forced i;pon the Christian 
nations as a measure of defence : that was their initial justifi- 
cation. But it is hard to wage war with a people and yet 
retain for them the elemental charity which the Divine 
Redeemer came to cast over the earth. In the course of the 
crusades Christendom had come to look upon the infidels as 

1 1 Celano, 55 ; Tract, de Mirac. 33 ; Leg. Maj. ix. 5 


an evil race, to be exterminated or brought to submission by 
the sword. That was the prevalent notion. True, attempts 
were occasionally made to convince them of their errors by 
argument. Popes themselves had written letters to the Sul- 
tans in this strain. But these overtures were of the sort 
which the general of an army might make in the hope of 
obtaining a bloodless submission. 

Altogether different was the spirit in which Francis 
dreamed his dream of converting them. The infidels were 
souls for whom Christ had died, and he would bring to them 
the message of the Christ for their own salvation. Fondly 
he hoped that if this message were brought to them without 
the din of secular warfare or the debatability of worldly argu- 
ment, they would listen. At least he would meet them in the 
spirit of the Eedeemer, and if need be, die meekly at their 
hands, as Christ had died, offering his life for their salvation. 

Such was the new and spiritual crusade which he conceived 
in the simplicity of his own piety and faith. He himself 
might accomplish but little in the way of actual conversion 
amongst the infidel nations ; for that is frequently the way 
with the most vitahzing ideals : they need to be transplanted 
into a less sensitive soil from that in which they are born, 
before they actualize into tangible results. Francis' ideas 
concerning the vocation of the fraternity had the essential 
vitality of ideal truth. Oftentimes they were of too pure a 
spirituality to be wholly acceptable to ordinary mortals ; yet 
were they as a flame which purged the accepted standards of 
much of their grossness ; and sometimes they cast a glamour 
of conviction about new and exalted ways, and thus opened 
them to a more common acceptance. So it was with his idea 
of converting the infidel by the power of the Gospel itself 
That idea became an integral element in the life of the frater- 


nity, scattering the brethren in aiter years into distant lands 
beyond the confines of Christendom; sending them forth in 
their poverty and faith without the aid of secular arms or 
diplomacy, even as the Apostles went forth in the first days 
of the Gospel.^ And that was one of the good things Francis 
did for Christendom: he fanned in the Church a new en- 
thusiasm for the conversion rather than for the conquest of 
"the enemies of the Cross". That first attempt of Francis 
to reach the infidels, which stranded him on the shores of 
Christian Dalmatia, was therefore no true failure, but the 
first sowing of a seed which will blossom when the winter is 

On his return to Italy Francis undertook evangelizing 
tours through the Marches of Ancona and Umbria : yet not 
without first experiencing a period of doubt as to whether he 
was personally called to the active ministry of preaching or 
to the secluded apostolate of prayer. But we cannot say 
whether this time of hesitation followed at once upon the 
frustration of his design to preach to the infidels, or a little 
later in consequence of another incident the story of which 
we will now relate. 

About the end of the spring of 1213, Francis was preaching 
in the Eomagna when he came to Montefeltro on a spur of 
the Apennines as you enter Tuscany. It was a small fortress- 
town perched upon a rocky ledge high in the mountains and 
ruled by the lord of the castle around which the town was 
built. The place was in high festival when Francis arrived, 
for a relative of the lord of Montefeltro had lately been 
knighted and the event was being celebrated with song and 

Tho letters of Gregory IX reveal the marvellous activity of the Fran- 
ciscan friars as simple missionaries amongst the infidels. Cf. Sbaralea, Bull. 
Franc, i. pp. 93, 100, 102, 106, 155, 233, 269, 


tourney and all the gay pleasantry of a feudal feast ; and from 
ail the neighbourhood the friends of the knight had gathered 
to do him honour. It was just an occasion to fire the 
imagination of Francis. The symbols of chivalry never left him 
unmoved. A great company had gathered in the courtyard of 
the castle perhaps to witness a joust at arms or maybe a min- 
strels' contest. Francis pressed forward, and mounting upon 
a parapet, besought the grace of the company that he might 
speak. Entering into the spirit of the scene he took as the 
text of his discourse a couplet of a minstrel's song : — 

Tanto e il bene ch' aspetto 
Ch' ogni pena m' h diletto " — 

" So great is the good I have in sight, — In every hardship I 
delight ". And straightway he launched into a recital of the 
service of Christ as set forth in the heroic endurance of the 
Apostles and martyrs and holy men and women, who in their 
joy of the heavenly vision had deemed penance and even 
death as a small price for so great a gain. 

Now amongst the listeners was the lord Orlando dei 
Cattani, lord of Chiusi in Casentino ; and such was the effect 
of the discourse upon him, that when Francis had finished 
speaking and had gone down amongst the crowd, Orlando 
sought him out and begged that he might confer with him 
concerning his soul's salvation. "Eight willingly," replied 
Francis, " but this morning thou must do honour to thy 
friends and dine with them and after thou hast dined we will 
confer together." So Orlando dined with his friends and 
afterwards he and Francis sat long in conference, and at the 
end Orlando offered Francis a retreat on Monte Alvernia 
high up in the solitudes of the Apennines, for the use of the 
brethren : it was a place, he said, remote from the high-roads 


and most suitable for contemplation and the penitential life. 
Francis gladly accepted the offer and promised to send breth- 
ren there at once. He himself was now bound for Assisi, 
but later on, he too would follow the brethren.^ 

Now it may be that this gracious act of the lord Orlando, 
in setting apart for the use of the brethren the secluded re- 
treat of Monte Alvernia, coming so shortly after the failure 
to reach the infidels, may have caused Francis to doubt the 
heavenly source of the inspiration which sent him upon that 
apparently bootless journey, and to doubt further whether 
after all his part in the work of the fraternity was that of a 
missionary at all. Not every brother was called to preach ; 
some would fulfil the vocation of the brotherhood better in 
the activity of the contemplative life. In prayerful solitude 
these would cultivate the intensity of spirit which is apt to be 
lost on the world's highways, and be as a flame enkindling 
the preachers with spiritual fire. 

Hence Francis deemed that in the fraternity there should 
always be some who would be wholly given to the in- 
terior life of contemplative prayer, whilst others were em- 
ployed in the ministry of the divine word. And about this 
time he was hesitating as to his own proper part in the hfe 
of the fraternity. 

He was again at the Porziuncola when this doubt came 

^ Fioretli, 1 CuDnid. Stim. ; Actus, cap. 9. The date of the donation of 
Alvernia is attested by the Instrumcnium donatiotiis Montis Alrenue to be 8 
May, 1213. Of. Sbaralea, Bull. Franc, iv. p. 156, n. h. — The Fioretti charac- 
teristically weaves the story of the donation into the story of the Stii'mata, 
the principal event in Francis' life connected with Monte Alvernia: but the 
description of the sermon bears every trace of authenticity. Compare it witli 
I Oelano, 23; 3 Soc. 25; Leg. Maj. in. 2; and also with, the description 
of Francis' style of preaching in the letter of Thomas of Spalatro (infra 
p. 369). 


to a head : but whether it was before he met the lord Orlando 
or after, we cannot definitely say.^ 

Unwilling now to trust to his own judgment, Francis 
called Brother Masseo and teUing him all his doubt, bade 
him go to Sister Clare and beg her first to pray to God 
and then declare to him what God should put into her mind 
concerning this matter ; and Masseo was to go to Brother 
Sylvester also, who was then in solitary retreat, and beg him 
in like manner to say what God willed. On Masseo's return 
Francis received him ceremoniously as the ambassador of 
God and washed his feet and made for him a repast. 
Afterwards they went together into the wood, and there 
Francis threw himself upon his knees and stretched forth his 
arms in the form of a cross and thus listened to Masseo. 
Both Sister Clare and Brother Sylvester, Masseo told him, 
had declared that Francis' vocation was to go forth into the 
world and preach the Gospel for the salvation of souls ; for 
that the grace of the vocation was not given him for himself 
alone but also for the saving of others. Hearing this, Francis 
rose up and said with fervent conviction : " Then let us go forth 
in the name of God". And taking with him Brothers 
Masseo and Angelo Tancredi, he without any delay set out 
on a journey. He took the road which leads across the 
valley, going by the further side towards Spoleto. 

As he went along, his mind wholly free from troublous 
doubt, all the country-side seemed to respond to the joyous 
gratitude towards God which filled his soul, and a closer 

' More probably it was after the donation of Alvernia, when St. Clare was 
already at San Damiano with the sisters who had joined her. So I conclude 
from the wording of the Leg. Maj. xii. 2. M. Sabatier places the appeal to 
St, Glare and Bro. Sylvester after the journey to Spain ; but the wording of 
Celauo more naturally points to the period immediately following the return 
from Slavonia (Dalmatia) and preceding the journey to Spain. 


kinship between him and the earth suddenly revealed 

They had passed through Cannara, which you can reach 
in about two hours' walking from Assisi, and were on their 
way to Bevagna, another two hours' easy going, allowing for 
the fatigue of the lengthening journey, when they came to 
the place now called Plan d' Area, where the white road is 
flanked on either side with wide-stretching verdant fields, 
with here and there a group of trees casting a kindly shadow 
in the hot sunlight. At this spot Francis' attention was ar- 
rested by a multitude of birds of all sorts, who had gathered 
there perhaps because of the fine harvests : and at the sight 
of them and the sound of their many voices, he felt a great 
tenderness towards them, and there came upon him a yearn- 
ing to make himself a brother to these merry creatures 
of God. 

At that, he bade his companions stand still, and himself 
ran forward into the midst of the birds, half afraid though he 
was that they might fly away at his approach. But instead, 
and to his surprise, they remained in position as though 
awaiting him. And for this Francis felt very grateful and 
grew more tender. He greeted them with his usual greeting : 
" My brothers, God give you peace " ; and began to speak 
caressingly to them. "My brother birds," he said, "much 
ought you to praise your Creator and to love Him always ; 
Him Who has given you feathers for clothing, wings for 
flight and all that you have need of. God has made you 
noble among His creatures, for He has given you a dwelling 
in the purity of the air, and though you neither sow nor reap. 
He yet protects and governs you without any care of your 
own." In such wise he spoke to them ; and they at the 
sound of his voice grew more confident and came nearer and 


moved their heads to look at him and spread out their wings 
in great contentment and twittered their trust in him. Then 
seeing how trustful and friendly they were, Francis moved 
ahout amongst them : yet they showed no fear. At length he 
blessed them with the sign of the cross and bade them de- 
part : and only then did they fly away.^ 

Francis and his two companions then proceeded on their 
way to Bevagna. But that had happened to Francis which 
even he himself hardly yet understood. The earth had opened 
to him another of its great secrets. Once before the mystery 
of life had lifted and he had found himself in spirit a brother 
to the outcast and the leper ; and that had been the beginning 
of his new life. To-day it was a like happening. He had 
run to the birds in a heightened sense of that friendliness 
which he had always felt for the brute creatures and which 
had before often won their confidence.^ 

But as he went on his way he was conscious of a new 
and different feeling. It was as though a new sense had been 
given him, and his heart beat with an intimate understanding 
of the heart-life of the beasts and birds and all sensitive 
things. He felt no longer a kindly stranger amongst them : 
they had become as life of his life, even as the poor had be- 
come some years before. And with this new understanding 
there came to him a wonderful power over all the wild life 
which moves upon the earth and in the air and water. The 
most timid or ferocious became fearless or tame at his side. 
Many are the stories related by those who knew Francis, of 
this singular power of his. For example : at Alviano, Francis 
was disturbed in his preaching by the swallows who were 

' I Celauo, 58 ; Leg. Maj. xii. 2-3 ; Fioretti, cap. xv. ; Actus, cap. 10. 
2 e.g. during his fast on Lake Thrasymene two years previously, a rabbit 
attached himself to Francis and would hardly leave him. Of. I Gelano, 60. 



building their nests and chirping and chattering the while. 
■■My sisters, the swallows," he called to them, " it is now 
time forme to speak; you have been speaking enough all 
the time." And at once the swallows ceased their chirping 
until the sermon was over.^ Once at the Porziuncola a cicala 
ma ' IS home m a fig-tree near Francis' cell. At Francis' 
call she would come and sit upon his hand. Then he would 
say : " Sing, mv sister cicala, and praise the Lord thy Creator 
with a joyful song ". And the cicala would at once begin to 
sing and continue singing until Francis joined her in song : 
nor would she go away until he bade her. But after eight 
days Francis told her to leave the place ; for he would not 
hold the wild things even in a willing capitivity. Then the 
cicala flew away and did not again return.- But most 
characteristic of all is the stoiy of the wolf of Gubbio. It 
happened iu the last years of Francis' hfe when he was too 
infirm to walk. He was on his way to Gubbio and had 
passed the night at the monastery of San Verecondo in the 
hills. Next morning he set out upon an ass ; but as he was 
about to piroceed some peasants came running to him, teUing 
him not to go forward as the country was over-run with 
ravenous wolves, who would surely eat both him and the 
ass. Francis answered gaily : '■ But what harm have I done 
to my In-others, the wolves, that they should eat me and the 
ass'? I will go on in the name of God." AVhen he came to 
Gubbio he found the city in a panic of fear. Francis 
thereupion preached to the people, telling them that this 
trouble had come upon them because of their sins, and 
persuading them to live better hves if they would be friends 
with God and His creatures. But after the sermon he went 
out to seek the particular wolf who was the chief cause of the 

U Celano, 59 ; Leg. Maj. sii. i. -II Celano, 171. 


terror, and in his nmrvellous way he tamed the beast, and 
brought him into the cit}- in meek and docile mood and had 
him fed : and from that time the wolf became the pet of the 
city until he died and, as tradition says, was buried honourably 
by the citizens on the spot where he had long been lodged, and 
where afterwards a church was built to commemorate this 
wonderful thing, under the title of San Francesco della 

But on the day when Francis first discovered his brother- 
hood with the birds he did not yet realize the power that had 
come to him. As he went along the road to Bevagna he was 
only conscious of a new freedom of spirit amongst God's 
creatures which gave him great gladness. Yet athwart the 
gladness there fell a shadow of remorse that he had hitherto 
been a stranger to all this vast creation and had failed to 
preach the word of God to his brothers the birds. 

The journey through the valley of Spoleto and that also 
through the Marches of Ancona, whither Francis also went 
about this time, became indeed a veritable triumphal pro- 
gress. The people crowded around him bringing their sick 
to be healed, and they were happy if they could but touch 
his garments ; still happier if they could tear off a piece to 

'It has long been the castom to regard the story of the wolf of Gubbio in 
the Fioretti, cap. 20, and Actii-s, cap. 2.3, as a mere allegory or myth. But the 
story has in recent years received two curious supports for its substantial 
authenticity. I refer to the Passio S. Verecwidi, an almost contemporary 
chronicle published by llgr. Falocci-Pulignani in MisceJl. Franc, x. pp. 6-7. 
This chronicle puts it beyond doubt that Francis came to Gubbio at a time 
when the country was being ravaged by hungry wolves. Cf. Archiv. Franc. 
Hist. an. i. fasc. i. p. 70. As to the tradition of the wolf's lodgment and death 
in Gubbio as related in the text, there is the finding of a wolf's skull imbedded 
beneath the ancient walls of the church of San Francesco della Pace, of which 
a full account is given in " Gubbio, Past and Present," by L. McCraken (Dent), 
p. 283. 



keep as a relic : so that he was in danger of going habitless. 
Even the things he handled became sacred in their eyes and 
were kept reverently for the relief of the sick. 

At some places the clergy and townsfolk, hearing of his 
approach, came out to meet him ; the chnrch-bells were rung 
joyously and the children marched in procession clapping 
their hands or carrying palm-branches and singing as they 
went along. In the Marches of Ancona and on the borders 
of the Romagna the success of his preaching was especially 
remarkable. At Ascoli thirty men, learned clerks some of 
them, joined the fraternity. Even the heretical Patarini, who 
were strong in numbers in those parts, respected his preach- 
ing and did not oppose him, though in opposition to their 
doctrines he was at pains to impress upon the listening 
crowds the duty of obedience to the Roman Church and re- 
spect for priests.^ 

And here we may mention one trait in the apostolate of 
Francis which conduced not a little to the success of his mis- 
sion. It mattered not to him whether he was preaching to 
a large crowd or merely to one or two people : he spoke as 
freely and fervently in one case as in the other.^ Totally 
unconscious of himself, he poured out his message of penance 
and peace and love with a burning eloquence even if but one 
man were listening. The incentive to speak was not de- 
pendent on the numbers or quality of his audience but in 
his own wonder at and reahzation of the eternal mysteries 
and in his zeal to fulfil the commission laid upon him. He 
spoke because he must, and from the fullness of his heart. 
And it was only when this necessity of speech was upon him 

1 1 Celano, 62. 

-" Populorum maximam muUihidinem quasi vivum unum cernebat et uni 
quasi multitudine diligentissvme prcsdicahat" (I Gelano, 72). 


that he could speak at all. At other times, if called upon to 
]ireach, he would merely bless the people and turn away.^ 
He would never speak to theui as a matter of form. Nor 
could he prepare sermons beforehand as ordinary preachers 
must. On the few occasions when he attempted to deliver a 
carefully prepared discourse, he failed utterly : the prepared 
speech fettered his spirit and his mind became a blank.^ And 
so when he did speak, his words were like the sudden letting 
loose of pent-up waters, rugged and swift in their flow, awe- 
some in their force and in the sense they gave of the volume 
of life behind, and yet melodious to the ear and steadying to 
the soul of the listener as the flow of vast waters always is. 
Francis at length returned to the Porziuncola, but the call to 
the infidels was still in his heart, and before the winter had 
set in, he had again started out to fulfil his desire.^ 

This time his intention was to preach to those Moors who 
had been defeated so severely the previous year at Las 
Navas : so he took the road to Spain, intending to cross 
thence into Morocco. His companions included Brother 
Bernard da Quintavalle who had left Bologna in fear of the 
reverence paid him there, as we have already said. So eager 
was Francis to reach his goal that it was with difficulty his 
companions could keep up with him on the road : "he seemed 
like one intoxicated in spirit," says St. Bonaventure, so swiftly 
did he press forward. But again his adventure was to fail of 
its purpose. When he reached Spain the fatigue and the 
hard winter weather brought on a sickness, and Francis 
could pursue his journey no further. When he was sufti- 
ciently recovered to be able to travel, he turned his face home- 

1 1 Celano, 72. 

2 Ibid. ; of. II Celano, 107. 

" C£. Chron. xxiv. Gen. in Anal. Franc, iii. p. 189. 


wards, convinced that his immediate duty was with the 
brethren in Italy.^ But some say that on his way home, he 
turned aside to seek comfort for his soul at the shrine of St. 
James the Apostle at Compostella, and that whilst he knelt 
there, he received an inward assurance that this journey 
would not be in vain, since on his homeward travel he would 
find places for the establishment of the fraternity and recei^•e 
many brethren into the Order.^ 

II Celano, 56; Leg. Maj. ix. 6. 

^Chron. xxiv. Gen. in Anal. Franc, in. p. 9; see also pp. 189-90, where 
various incidents concerning this journey are related. Tradition says that 
Francis actually founded places for the friars at Burgos, Logrono, etc., and 
that he predicted at Montpellier the foundation of a house of friars there. Cf. 
Wadding, .4 Tillages, ad an. 1213. On the other hand the Bollandists hold that all 
these foundations belong to a somewhat later date. Cf. Acta SS. mense Octob. 
11. p. G03. 



From the time that Francis had made his first effort to preach 
to the infidels the fraternity had been rapidly increasing in 
numbers and activity. Before the close of 121.5, the brethren 
were well known throughout the whole of central and 
northern Italy ; and a beginning of the apostolate had been 
made in Spain and southern France. 

In Italy the wonderment — in which was a curious com- 
mingling of the readiness to scoff and the impulse to worship 
— which had been aroused by the friars on their first appear- 
ance, had given place to a more consistent reverence. Francis 
and his brethren had become an accepted fact in the reform 
movement of the period ; and throughout Umbria, Tuscany, 
the Marches of Ancona and Lombardy, dwelling-places of 
the fraternity had sprung into being as the nests appear in 
the trees in the early spring-time. They were small hermit- 
ages either on the outskirts of the cities and towns or in the 
hills not far away. For the people, won to better thoughts 
by the life and preaching of the brethren, were unwilling to 
see them depart from their neighbourhood, and the brethren 
— wanderers as they must be for the sake of Christ — were 
glad of a welcoming retreat to which they might retire amidst 
then- labours and find refreshment for their souls in un- 
disturbed prayer and in the companionship of each other. 



The establishment of the brethren in a neighbourhood 
was in the best sense of the term, a social event. They be- 
came part of the life of the place. For though they accepted 
usually only such places as had a certain solitariness to re- 
commend them, yet they dwelt there only at the will of the 
owner or of the commune. They took part in the labour of 
the day with the country folk or in the houses of the citizens, 
and depended upon them for their daily bread. They 
thus made themselves sons of the people even whilst they 
were to them apostles of a new rehgious life ; and their pre- 
sence pervaded the landscape and brought a new element as 
of some intimate concern, into the life of the community and 
into every household. That was one of the strange things 
about these new religious. They won their way not by de- 
liberate dominance, whether social or intellectual, over others, 
but as children vsdn their way, by very dependence. In their 
entire poverty and still more in their gentleness and wide 
human sympathies, they threw themselves upon the goodwill 
of their fellow-men : and this dependence proved in large 
measure their strength. Men grown cynical and suspicious 
of attempts to force religion upon them, were softened and 
disarmed when it came to them disrobed of every appearance 
of worldly interest and ambition. Moreover it was very evi- 
dent that these men had not embraced poverty as a weapon 
of party warfare either in opposition to the Church or in its 
defence ; but because they loved it for its own sake as one 
loves a precious gain. What the gain really was, or why it 
should be allied to such absolute poverty, might be a mystery 
to most of those who saw them : yet they felt it was there 
and was worth having in their midst. Its presence spelt for 
them a vision of purity and charity and noble endurance and 
of a joyous faith in the heaven to come. In this way did 


the fraternity win the heart of the Itahan people ; giving to 
them of its own spiritual treasure, yet depending on them 
for all manner of human good-will. 

And it was not only the laity who thus welcomed and 
succoured the brethren. The parish priests were as kindly 
and worshipful as their parishioners. Here and there a 
priest might rebuff them as meddlers and hypocrites ; ' but 
generally speaking the priests were their friends and opened 
their doors to them hospitably when the brethren begged a 
night's lodging as they went from place to place. And in- 
deed it would have been strange had it been otherwise ; for 
the brethren showed marked reverence for all priests and 
taught the people to respect them. In striking contrast to 
the reforming sectaries, Francis and his friars would tolerate 
no ill-word against a priest, since to them he was the re- 
presentative and minister of the priesthood of Christ. To 
those who spoke ill of a priest Francis would reply, " I know 
not whether his living be worthy of respect or otherwise ; but 
this I know that his hands convey the sacraments to many 
people and bring salvation to their souls : therefore will I kiss 
his hands in all reverence." ^ 

Nor would he allow the brethren to preach in any parish 
against the will of the parish-priest,^ or in any way to inter- 
fere with their parochial rights.* And so whether with the 
laity or the clergy, he won his way by gentleness and 

'e.g. I Celano, 46. 

''Cf. Admonit. 26 in O^wscw/a [Quaracchi], p. 18. ConcerniDg Francis' 
reverence for priests, cf. II Celano, 8, li6, 201 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 64 ; Regula 
Prima, cap. 19 ; Testamentum S. F. 

3Cf. Testamentum S. F.; Scripta Fr. Lconis [Lemmens], ii. 6; Spec. 
Perfect, cap. 50. 

'' Cf. Scripta Fr. Leonis, ut supra ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 10. 


What perhaps most recommended the brethren to the 
authorities of the Church was that, wherever they were re- 
ceived by the people, the spirit of faction and heresy was 
lessened : men forgot their discontent and shook off their 
quarrels ; a new sense of life sprang up amongst them, beside 
which political programmes and party feuds were of little con- 
cern. Of those who had hitherto thought of reform as some- 
thing to set their neighbours right, many now began to take it 
as something primarily concerning themselves : and that was 
the beginning of peace. Moreover in this new religious re- 
vival the Church was not set as a bone of contention in the 
midst. Francis and the brethren took the Church for granted ; 
they did not discuss its claims. On occasion, when drawn 
thereto by the heretics, they would assert their belief and pro- 
fess their reverence, but they did not argue. Very swiftly the 
people recognized that the brethren saw in the Church, above 
and beyond the petty contentions of men, a Divine presence 
amidst the things of earth : and this simple uncontentious 
faith did more to revive the loyalty of a people whose faith 
was strong in spite of discontent, than all controversy could 
have done. The faith of the brethren was its own argument : 
such was the ascendancy they obtained over the people's 

Every year the brethren scattered throughout the Pro- 
vinces gathered together at some appointed place, ^ about the 

' " Semel in anno cum muHiplici lucro ad locum detei-minatuni convcyiiunt," 
writes Jacques de Vitry in 1216 (vide his letter published by M. Sabatier 
in Spec. I'erfect. pp. 296 s«g. ; and by Boehmer, Analekten zur Oeschichie dcs 
Franciscus von Assisi, p. 94 seq.). We know also from Celauo that St. Francis 
from the beginning would frequently call tlie brethren together to consult 
with them about the fraternity (cf. I Celano, 29). Probably from the early 
days the more important annual Chapter was held at Pentecost in imitation 
of the gathering together of the Apostles. 3 Soc. cap. xiv. speaks of the 


time of the Pentecost festival, to receive the instructions 
of their spiritual father and to consult with him concerning 
the affairs of the fraternity : thus a close union was kept be- 
tween Francis and all the brethren and between the brethren 

They do not seem to have met always at the Porziuncola : 
at least on one occasion the chapter of the brethren was held 
near the monastery of San Verecondo in the neighbourhood 
of Gubbio, and at that chapter three hundred brethren were 
present : for whom the Abbot provided the necessary food.' 

To these gatherings the brethren came gladly, for the 
family spirit was strong amongst them. Francis took the 
opportunity to impress upon their minds the fundamental 
principles of their vocation and to warn them against the 
dangers they must meet with on their journeys. He would 
especially remind them of the reverence due to priests and to 
the ordinances of the Church, lest they should be led astray 
by the heretical reformists. They were, moreover, to avoid 
sitting in judgment upon men who lived delicately or were 
proudly clad : rather were they to revere all men as their 
lords and brothers. Wherever they came they must endea- 
vour to bring peace and harmony amongst men, and this they 
would do if they had peace and good-will in themselves. In 
fine, they were to remember that their mission was " to heal 
the wounded, bind up the broken-hearted, and recall them 
that had erred ". " Many may seem to us," he would add, 

Chapters of Pentecost and Michaelmas; hut it is uncertain whether the 
Michaelmas Chapter was instituted before the institution of Provinces in 
1217. Pere Mandonnet, O.P. (Les Eigles et la gouveriicment de I'Ordo de Pceni- 
tentia, chap. iii. p. 201 note), seems to hold that both chapters were of earlier 

' Leg. de Passione S. Verecundi, in Miseell. Franc, x. p. 6. Cf. Archiv 
Franc. Hist. an. i. faso. i. pp. 69-70. 


"to be limbs of the devil, who nevertheless shall become 
disciples of Christ." Sometimes the admonitions and pre- 
cepts given by Francis at these Chapters were incorporated 
in the Eule for their better remembrance. When the Chapter 
was over, the brethren again set out for their different places 
or went on a journey newly assigned them, with their hearts 
burning and their souls braced up. 

These were indeed the joyous years of the fraternity's 
growth. Without any doubt the brethren had their own in- 
dividual difficulties and temptations which developed the 
strength of their manhood but they were not such as make 
history ; and so it is that apart from the incidents related in 
the preceding Chapter, the three or four years following tlie 
"conversion" of the Lady Clare, give comparatively sparso 
harvest to the historian of the early Franciscan days. His- 
tory is not made in the equitable sunshine but in the frosts 
and tempests and scalding heat : for history is not life itself 
but the record of life's transitions and violent efforts. 

But that was now about to happen which was to intensify 
still more the life of Francis and his brethren and link up 
still further their destiny with the religious movement of the 
age : though at the time they were hardly conscious of any 
unusual stirring in their calmly vivid lives. 

In the November of 1215 Francis was again in Eome. 
The General Council convoked by Innocent III to meet on 
St. Martin's Day, was then in session. It is not improbable 
that Francis was present in the interest of the fraternity, for 
the recognition of "new orders" was one of the matters to 
be discussed by the Council.' 

' lu fact so unconscious were the friars of any special link between Francis' 
presence at this Council and subsequent events in his history, that the early 
biographers do not even mention his attendance at the Council. Fortunately 
we have the evidence of the Dominican author of the Vita Fratrum {vide infra, 
p. 181) and of Angelo Clareno {infra, p. 177). 


The Council was in truth an asseml)lage of all the forces, 
spiritual and temporal, of the Catholic world. Archbishops 
and bishops and the representatives of kings and princes ; 
heads of monasteries and universities, and proctors of every 
established interest in the Church and petitioners for interests 
yet to be established — all had come to Eome as to " the ex- 
alted citadel whence the best public opinion of the age was 
to send forth its decrees for the ordering of the Christian 
nations".^ As the assembled prelates and representatives 
knew well, it was a council of war. The Pope had called 
them together with the acknowledged purpose of bringing 
the rehgious aspirations of the time into immediate conflict 
with its devastating worldliness and rising infidelity. He was 
willing to stake his whole policy upon an attempt to gather 
to his side whatever in Christendom was yet responsive to 
the ideal of a Church purified from the evils which were 
sapping the very foundations of the Christian life. He would 
demand from all the Catholic peoples a supreme effort to 
root out both heresy and the more insidious worldliness which 
were eating into the Church's life, and to arouse the nations 
from the apathy which allowed the infidels to keep possession 
of the most sacred sanctuaries of Christendom. 

The occupation of the Holy Land by the infidels was to 
Innocent, as to all the religious spirits of the Middle Ages, a 
symbol of the disloyalty of the Christian people to Christ and 
the Church. The recovery of the Holy Places was a matter 
of honour with every honest Christian ; an attestation of his 
faith in the Divine Eedeemer Who had there hved and died. 
Innocent HI perhaps did not realize how far the temper 
of the nations had receded from the point which might have 
made a crusade successful ; or if he did, being a mystic as 

' Baronius, Annales, ad an, 1215. 


well as a politician, he may yet have bound himself to issue 
his war-cry and shame a recreant world. Also he was not a 
man to be diffident of carrying through a purpose to which 
he had set his hand. In his masterful spirit he may have 
thought himself able to bring the laggard states to decisive 
action. But whatever may have been his further outlook 
upon the issue of his policy, he associated the idea of an in- 
ternal reformation of Christendom with an effort to recover 
the Holy Places. A crusade would revive the people's faith 
and go hand in hand with moral reform. And for this In- 
nocent had convoked the Council, to take its opinion and 
still more to issue his command. 

So on St. Martin's Day, the Conciliar Fathers and dele- 
sates were assembled in the church of St. John Lateran for 
the opening of the first session. Innocent preached the 
inaugural sermon. Clearly his words rang out, and in his 
voice was an impassioned sincerity. For the moment the 
statesman in the Pontiff gave place to the prophet. It would 
seem that he already had some intiixiation that his days 
would not be long, and that he must not delay if he would 
see the consummation of the work he had taken in hand. 
This prescience of an early death hangs pathetically over 
the strenuous vitality with which he directed the Council. 
It dictated to him the text for his opening sermon: "With 
desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you before I 
suffer".' "Truly," he went on to say, "might this Council 
be called a pasch, for the word pasch means passage," and from 
this assembly he looked for a threefold passage of the nations 
— a passage to the Holy Places, a passage from vice to virtue, 
a passage from this temporal life to the life eternal. Not in 
temporal ambition had he called the Fathers together, but 

1 Luke XXII. 15. 


that the Church might be reformed and the Holy Land be 
once more in Christian hands. 

If God would not grant him to see the accomplishment 
of his desire, he would not refuse to drink this chalice of 
Christ's passion : he would not refuse death, though he would 
that he might live in the flesh until the work now to be be- 
gun, were consummated. " Not my will, but God's, be done ! " 

Then swiftly he depicted the misery of the Holy Places 
trod under foot by the infidels. " Jerusalem, the city of 
sorrow, is calling to all who pass by the way to come and sec 
if there be sorrow like unto hers ; and shame and disgrace 
will it be to them who pass by unheeding." But another 
sorrow called out to them from amidst the abominations 
which were in the midst of the Christian peoples, the sorrow 
of the Church defiled by the people's sin : and at this the 
Pontiff deftly took up and expounded the ninth chapter of the 
Prophet Ezechiel, applying its reforming ordinances to the 
situation of the moment. 

He himself, as the supreme pastor of God's Church, 
he explained, was "the man clothed in linen with a writer's 
ink-horn at his loins ". To him the Lord had said : " Go 
through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jeru- 
salem ; and mark Thau upon the foreheads of the men that 
sigh and mourn for all the abominations that are committed 
in the midst thereof ". His audience were " the six men that 
came from the way of the upper gate ". To them the command 
of the Lord was " to go after their leader through the city 
and to strike," sparing none save " those upon whom they see 
Thau " : they are to strike with all the power at their disposal 
— interdict, suspension, excommunication and deposition — 
till the city be cleansed. Yet must they strike in order to 
heal, kill in order to quicken ; accordmg to the words of our 


Lord : " I will not that the sinner die ". Chiefly must they 
look to the clerical order : and now Innocent's words, sharp 
and deoisive as they had been, took on a keener edge: 
" When the priest sins, he makes the people sin too ". " How 
can the pastors who live evilly reprehend those who live in 
iniquity ? These will but reply : the son cannot do but what 
he sees his father doing; it is sufficient for the disciple that 
he be as his master ; and so is the prophecy fulfilled : there 
shall be like priest like people." ^ 

It was a masterly discourse, superbly courageous, entirely 
sincere. Its spirit dominated the deliberations of the Council 
and urged the Fathers to the devising of heroic measures. 

A new crusade was decided upon ; the Eoman Curia was 
to be purified of secular ambition and the avarice of its 
officials ; and the reformation of the clergj', thus begun at the 
fountain-head, was to be carried throughout all ranks. 

So the Council ordained : but the Crusade proved a 
failure, and the cleansing of the Koman Court from the scanpal 
of avarice was thwarted by the distrust of the nations." And 
yet the Fourth Lateran Council has justly been styled the 
Great Keforming Council of the Middle Ages ; for though it 
failed of its more immediate and ambitious decisions, it adopted 
and uttered with the sacrnsanct utterance of the highest 
authority, the cry of the age for a more Christian life amongst 
clergy and laity, and set in motion forces by which a new life 
was to be given to a degenerate faith and a slackened moral 
sense. The proclamation of a crusade received but a faint- 
hearted response ; but the decrees ordering the bishops to 
appoint worthy men to preach the word of God in their dio- 

' Labbaeus, Sacronim Conciliorum Collcclio [edit. 1778], vol. xxii. pp. 

^C£. Abbot Gasquet, Henry III mid the Church, chap. v. 


ceses, and still more the decisive adoption of the penitential 
movement and fraternities into the organized system of the 
Church, were the salvation of Catholic Christendom. 

But it is in reference to Francis and his fraternity that 
we are concerned with the Council in this history. Francis 
had been called to Eome either by the Pope himself or by the 
Cardinal-Protector, John of St. Paul, to represent the interests 
of the fraternity. For it had been determined to direct the up- 
rising of the new penitential fraternities into the already estab- 
lished ways of the monastic or canonical life,i so as to bring 
them more effectively under the authority of the Church and 
temper the fanaticism which not unfrequently entered into 
the constitution of the new fraternities. And in fact the 
Council did decree that no new Kules should be allowed, but 
all orders founded in the future must adopt one of the tra- 
ditional Eules as the basis of their organization. 

Happily for Francis and his fraternity, their Eule had 
already been approved by the Holy See, and when the question 
of the new orders came up for discussion, Pope Innocent 
notified the Council of his approbation of the Friars Minor.^ 
It is evident that the Pontiff had no intention of going back 
upon his original approbation ; for not only did he thus form- 
ally confirm his sanction of the Eule of the brethren in the 

' The traditional religious communities were of two sorts ; the monks who 
mostly followed the Rule of St. Benedict, and the canons-regular who followed 
the Rule of St. Augustine. The various congregations either of the monastic 
order or the canonical, differed in their constitutions and customs, but they 
all professed the same rule according as they were monies or canons. The 
Franciscan Eule, however, was sui generis and the Friars Minor were neither 
monks nor canons ; they represented the new penitential fraternity pure and 

^ Cf. Angalo Clarouo in Ehrle, Archiv fUr Lilteratur und Kirchen-Qe- 
tchichte, torn. i. p. 657. 



presence of the representatives of the Church ; but about this 
same time he extended the "privilege" of absolute poverty, 
as accorded to the brethren, to Clare and her sisters at San 

Such formal approbation was undoubtedly of the first 
importance to the life of the fraternity in that it preserved the 
individuality of the Franciscan family at a critical moment : 
but it did not add anything to the life of the brethren itself 
nor tend to expand its vital energies. And yet, as we have 
said, this Council was to stir deeply the heart of Francis and 
leave its mark upon the fraternity. 

It came about in this way : all unconsciously on the part 
of the Pontiff and the Council and without deliberation on 
the part of Francis — ^as in fact the most vital happenings 

Francis had come to the Council as one might approach a 
holy place, expectant of the majesty of God. To him this 
assembling of the bishops of Christendom was as another 
Pentecost : for truly he believed that where the Church was 
thus assemljled there would be the Divine Spirit ; and as he 
entered the great cathedral church of the Catholic world on 
that first day of the Council, this sense of the openincr 
heavens was upon him. So he had awaited the sermon of the 
Supreme Pontiff. One needs the reverential spirit to receive 
a prophet's words ; and of all that vast assembly, none was 
so reverent as the lowly friar in his unkempt garb. To him 
the sermon was as a personal message ; had he not already 
known that the judgment of God was hovering over a forgetful 
world, held back only by God's own mercy ? And now the 
Pontiff speaking as God's representative on earth was announc- 
ing judgment and extending mercy. Eagerly he seized upon 
' Vide supra, -g. 171. 


that promise of mercy in the judgment to come, to all who 
were signed with the Thau, the mark of penance and the 
new life in Christ. With that mark he would sign him- 
self and the brethren and all who would listen to his words. 
And the Thau seemed, as the Pontiff explained its meaning, 
the ordained mark of the sons of Poverty. " Thau," the 
Pope said, " is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet " 
(Francis treasured those words as indicating the humility 
in which the Gospel was founded), "it expresses the form 
of the cross such as it was before Pontius Pilate placed 
the title upon it. This sign he carries on his forehead 
who shows forth the power of the cross in his deeds accord- 
ing to what the Apostle says : they have crucified their 
flesh with the vices and concupiscences ; and again : God 
forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me and I to the 
world. Such a man indeed weeps and groans over the abomi- 
nations which are in the midst of the city, since the sins of 
one's neighbour are the hell of the just." 

Every word fell upon the ears of Francis as an echo of 
the spirit which had led him on these nine years past ; yet 
with a fresh emphasis and as words of a full and immediate 
wisdom which gave direction and force to latent energies. 
From that moment he took to himself the sign Thau as the 
symbol of the vocation of the brethren. It became his sign- 
manual : with it he marked his dwelling-places and subscribed 
his letters i as with a saving talisman. 

But chiefly did he bear the Thau in his very soul : for 
now he began to mourn even more passionately than hereto- 
fore over the world's sin and to feel a greater pity for the 
world upon which God's judgment must surely fall if it did 

' Celano, Tract, de Mirac. 3 ; Leg. Maj. iv. 9. 


not repent. And from that time too he began to ponder upon 
some means of bringing the Divine pardon more swiftly to 
repentant souls. Never before perhaps had he realized so 
deeply and v?ith such entire conviction the message which 
Sister Clare and Brother Sylvester had sent him two years 
ago, that God had called him not for his own salvation only 
but also for the salvation of others. 

Of a surety now he felt that the brethren were " the 
heralds of the great King " sent to carry out the Pontiff's 
commission of judgment and mercy, but chiefly of mercy: 
for as Pope Innocent had declared in the summing up of his 
sermon ; " God desires not the death of the sinner ".■' 

Men whose lives are a faithful aspiration after some moral 
or spiritual ideal, not infrequently experience these sudden 
deepenings of their most cherished convictions, wrought by 
some unexpected word or action : and these experiences bring 
with them a new illumination and assurance and a keener 
urgency to realize the cherished life which is in them. In 

' I do not know if anyone has hitherto connected St. Francis' devotion 
to the sign Thau with Pope Innocent's sermon: but to my mind the con- 
nexion seems certain. There is no historic evidence of the use of the Thau 
until after the Council ; but we know Francis used it not long afterwards ; and we 
may be quite sure that tliat devotion had its origin in some external event, as 
all Francis' devotions had. Then there are the two visions of Brother Paci- 
ficus. In the first vision which happened before the Council, in 1213 or 1214, 
he saw Francis marked with two flaming swords in the form of a cross, i.e. 
a four-limbed cross (II Celano, 106 ; Leg. Maj. iv. 9) ; another time, but after 
the Council, " before he became Minister of France," Pacificus saw him with 
the Thau on his forehead (ibid). 

One can hardly read the inaugural sermon of Innocent III without being 
struck by its intense sympathy with the penitential spirit which gave rise to 
the penitent fraternities of the time. It was such a sermon as Francis could 
not have listened to without feeling that the Pontiff in his magisterial capa- 
city, was proclaiming the gospel of penance such as he himself and the 
penitents had been preaching. And it was the Pontif! who proclaimed the 
Tluiu as the badge of the penitent spirit. 


the beginning of their spiritual growth such urgency is com- 
monly supplied by the discovery of hitherto unrecognized 
objects of reverence or affection ; but later it proceeds not so 
much from nev7 ideas or mental recognitions, but rather from 
the will or affective faculty itself. A chance word perhaps 
will reveal to the heart its own possession not in a new 
light but with a fuller, more translucent light : and upon 
such revelations does a man's life bound to its final per- 

In some way Francis must have had the feeling of being 
adopted into the declared policy of the assembled Church, as 
he listened to Innocent's injunctions to the Council : for un- 
doubtedly in so far as they referred to the cleansing of 
Christian society from internal vice and luxury, they were 
the official response to the penitential movement by the su- 
preme Pastor of Christendom. Ail unconscious of it as he 
was, Francis was in fact in the eyes of the Pontiff, the re- 
presentative of that movement in its purest form. Another 
man there was present at the Council, who was to turn that 
movement into a defence of the dogmatic position of the 
Church ; and that was Dominic Guzman who had come to 
petition the Pope for leave to found a new order of Preachers. 
But Dominic's purpose was directly to defend the faith of 
Christendom against the argumentative attacks of the here- 
tics ; whereas the purpose of Francis was that primary aim 
of the penitent upheaval, the more perfect practice of the 
Gospel-life. How far, one wonders, was Pope Innocent con- 
scious that in these two men would be found the driving 
force which was to realize the prophetic mission of purgation 
which he had set before the Council? And did their pres- 
ence give inspiration to his thought when he met the Con- 
ciliar Fathers at the Lateran ? One would not lightly hazard 


an affirmation, knowing how seldom forceful minds, like that 
of Pope Innocent, are conscious of their dependence upon the 
actions of others. And yet, such was the greatness of his 
nature, whether or not he foresaw their future destiny, he 
could not let them pass by, but must gather them into the 
armoury of the Church. But this formal adoption of the 
Franciscan fraternity into the forces of the hierarchy will 
necessarily bring about wide-reaching results in its consti- 
tution and development : it will become more intimately 
associated with the general forward policy of the Church : a 
secluded growth will no longer be possible ; its individuality 
must find its setting in the common life and system of the 
Catholic hierarchy, of which it now becomes a more intimate 
member. And of this too you may be sure, that the two 
fraternities of Francis and Dominic having thus formally 
been adopted by the Church, the orthodox penitential move- 
ment will gradually find itself entirely drawn within their 
enfolding organizations : and the fraternities will grow not 
merely from the vital force within them but by the shep- 
herding care of vigilant authority : and that too will affect 
their ultimate history. 

But as yet these further consequences are hidden from 
the common gaze, in the veils of time ; and they do not detain 
the thoughts of Francis whose one pm-pose is to carry out 
his mission as it comes to him. Yet even so, he was conscious 
of an enlargement of the horizon which bounded the limits of 
his activity. He was brought for the first time into definite 
alliance with the larger policy of the Church and with other 
forces which were working for the regeneration of Catholic 
Christendom. Thus before the Council was over he had 
entered into comradeship with Dominic Guzman of whom 
we have just spoken. 


Their first coming together in friendship is one of the 
romances of history. Neither knew the other till they came 
face to face on one of these busy days in the streets of Eome. 
Doubtless on his journey through Italy, Dominic had heard 
of the Friars Minor and had been curious as to their founder, 
of whose doings men were now talking with wonderment. 
One night during his stay in the Eternal City, Dominic in a 
dream saw himself and a man he did not know, presented by 
the Blessed Virgin to Jesus Christ, as the destined messengers 
of divine mercy to the world. The next day, coming across 
Francis, he recognized in him the man of his dream and went 
forward and claimed acquaintance and told the dream he had 
had. Then embracing Francis, he exclaimed : " You are my 
comrade and we will run together. Let us stand together 
and no enemy shall overcome us." ^ 

Dominic Guzman was at this time about forty-five years 
of age, that is to say, he was Francis' senior by about eleven 
years. Whilst Francis was still dreaming about a soldier's life 
and leading the revels in his native city, Dominic had already 
been preaching against the heretics in the South of France. 
He had no gay past to trouble his conscience. From child- 
hood he had been of a religious cast of thought, and had early 
been sent to school under some Canons Eegular. 

He had a clear logical mind : in after years he would ex- 
pound the Epistles of St. Paul in the household of the Pope, 
during his visits to Eome, like any master in the schools. 
Even in his student days he was austere and ascetic in 
his personal conduct, and for years would not taste wine. 
But withal he was pitiful towards others who were in need. 
Once during a famine he sold his books to feed the poor ; at 
another time he offered to exchange places with a captive 

1 See note on p. 222. 


who had fallen into the hands of the Moors, because the 
captive had a family dependent upon him. 

His future career was determined by his friendship with 
Diego, Bishop of Osima. The bishop took Dominic with 
him on a visit to Eome in 1205. Pope Innocent was just 
then sending three legates and twelve Cistercian abbots to 
preach in Languedoc where the Albigensian heresy was mak- 
ing portentous headway ; and he now attached the Bishop of 
Osima and his friend to the mission. 

On one occasion a conference had been arranged between 
the bishop and Dominic on the one side and the heretics on 
the other. The bishop meant to go in great pomp, thinking 
to over-awe his opponents, but Dominic persuaded him to 
put aside the paraphernalia of his rank and to appear at the 
conference barefooted and armed only with the meekness 
and humility of the Gospel.^ 

In 1206 the Cistercian abbots left the field to go to the 
General Chapter of their Order at Citeaux : in truth their 
mission had not been a great success. Dominic and his 
bishop were left to carry on the work of defence ; then two 
years later the bishop died and Dominic became virtually 
the leader of the Catholic propaganda. He showed again 
of what temper he was when in 1209 he refused to take part 
in the crusade against the Albigenses and confined himself to 
his own proper work of preaching. He believed that heresy 
would not be uprooted by secular arms, but by the word of God 
expounded by men whose lives witnessed to their own belief. 

By 1215 Dominic had gathered around him some priests 
of a like mind to his own ; and had received from Fulk, 
Bishop of Toulouse, leave to form them into a company of 
preachers ; and then he came to Rome to seek the Papal 

1 VikB Fratrum, loo. oit. pars 2, pp. 67-8, 


sanction for his new order of Preachers. At first Innocent 
had hesitated to give a formal sanction. He still favoured 
the idea of renovating the estabhshed monastic orders with 
the apostolic spirit rather than of founding new orders. But 
when the Council was over, he bade Dominic return to 
Toulouse and with the advice of his companions draw up a 
Constitution for his fraternity, based, however, upon the 
Eule of St. Augustine in accordance with the decree of the 
Council regarding new orders.^ 

Some hard words have been uttered by a latter-day world 
about the founder of the Friars Preachers : he has been de- 
scribed as a stern inquisitor, more zealous for a theological 
system than for the souls of men : yet they who have thus 
described him, can hardly have read the records of his life. 
He was indeed first and last the defender of the Catholic 
Faith against an encroaching heresy : and this mission of de- 
fence was his life and the mould of his character ; he lived 
for that one purpose. One might call him a man of ideas 
rather than an idealist : and that would account perhaps for 
the fact that in after years Dominic was remembered not for 
his personality but for the work he achieved as founder of an 
order.^ AA^e have indeed no well-defined portrait of the man : 
but such glimpses of him as we obtain of him from the 
chroniclers, show him to have been a conscientious, zealous 
worker for the Faith, with a clearer vision of what was need- 
ful for the overcoming of heresy than most men of his day, 
and with a forceful will capable of achieving a purpose he 
had set himself to achieve. He perceived the futility of com- 
bating heresy with the sword whilst the mind was left unin- 
structed and unconvinced ; and he saw too that no intellectual 

»Cf. Ada S8. Augusti, torn. i. p. 358 seq. 
2 Cf. P. Sabatier, Vie de S. Franr^ois, p. 248. 


argument would avail unless the preacher manifested in 
his own life the Gospel he preached. And so out of his 
experience and his own sincerity he conceived of an order 
of militant penitents who would make war upon heresy 
with the two weapons of theological learning and an ascetic 


A very different character, you will see at once, from 
Francis. It was the meeting of the experimental man of 
affairs with the idealist. And yet between these two there 
was the bond of a common loyalty wholly separated from 
any personal ambition or self-interest. Both were heart and 
soul dedicated to the service of Christ without any ulterior 
motive, and both had before their minds the reign of the 
Christ amongst men as their single objective. In that com- 
mon loyalty their friendship was established. They met 
in the sinaplicity of their purpose, and knew each other for 
what they were ; nor could they ever again be strangers to 
each other, however far apart their separate vocations might 
lead them. Dominic indeed at one time would gladly have 
united the two fraternities under one rule and leadership : so 
great was his reverence for Francis. But that was not to be. 
Each had his own part to play in the drama of hfe : neither 
could have fulfilled the special purpose for which the other 
was designed. Yet their friendship has rightly been crowned 
by tradition as a noble companionship in arms : for upon the 
minds of their contemporaries they left the conviction of a 
sacred emulation in which each strove to accomplish his 
separate work for the same Divine Master, with a true rev- 
erence and regard for each other. How often they met 
after that first meeting in Rome, we cannot say : probably 
not frequently. But the one authentic reunion related in the 
legends bears out the verdict of history. The two leaders 


had met in conference with Cardinal Ugohno, and both had 
been of the same mind that their fraternities would serve the 
Church better in their proper condition of evangelical hu- 
mility, than if they were to assume rank and position in the 
hierarchy : for the cardinal had wished to take the future 
bishops from their ranks ; and to that neither of the founders 
M'ould agree. AVhen the conference was over and the two 
friars were leaving the cardinal's house, Dominic turned to 
Francis and begged of him his cord that he might wear it in 
remembrance. Francis consented, though somewhat reluc- 
tantly because of the undisguised reverence which prompted 
the request. But Dominic receiving the cord, at once girded 
himself with it. Then the two spontaneously clasped each 
other's hands, and thus for awhile held converse. " Brother 
Francis," said Dominic at length, "I would that your order 
and mine were one and that we might live in the Church 
under the same rule." AVhen finally they parted and took 
their different roads, Dominic said to those who were 
with him: "In truth I tell you, that all rehgious should 
imitate this holy man Francis, so perfect is his holi- 
ness "} 

Three centuries later Andrea della Eobbia made that 
clasping of hands of the two founders, the subject of one of 

■II Celano, 150 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 48. It is impossible to fix precisely 
the date of this meeting. It must have been after Cardinal Ugolino first made 
the acquaintance of Francis at Florence in 1217. Dominic was in Rome 
(where this meeting took place) in the winter of 1217, also in 1218 and again 
in December, 1220, and in the earlier months of 1221 {Acta SS. loo. cit. Gotn- 
nient. Praev.). The probable date, however, is the winter of 1217-18. We know 
that Cardinal Ugolino was in Bome at that time. Of. Potthast, nos. 5629 seq. 
A meeting between Francis and Dominic in 1216 is mentioned in Unibria 
Serafica, Miscell. Franc, ii. p. 47 ; and by Galvagno de la Flamma in Mon. 
Ord. FF. PP. vol. ii. fasc. i. p. 7. Concerning the meeting of the two saints 
at the Chapter of Mats in 1219, vide Acta SS. loo. cit. 


his immortal terra-cottas ; but as one gazes upon it, remem- 
bering the life-stories of the two men, one's thoughts are 
carried beyond the personal incident, and Francis and 
Dominic are types of two spirits usually found amongst men 
in active opposition — the spirits of Hberty and law. 

The very breath of Francis' life was the liberty of soul 
which he found in the service of Christ : the beauty of the 
Gospel, as he saw it, was the spiritual freedom it gave as an 
inheritance to its faithful observers ; ^ and it was that freedom 
he hungered for and sought in all his ardent adventure. 
Dominic on the other hand was restless for the law which 
the Church had received from Christ : he was zealous for its 
ordered dogmas of faith and for the established authority 
without which the faith could not stand. Only the fanatic 
will deny that both spirits are of the very essence of life itself, 
whether it be found in religion or elsewhere, and therefore at 
all times in potential harmony. Yet it is only in the more 
exalted natures that this harmony is realized. With lesser 
men differences of function can be thought of only as a con- 
ti'adiction of principles ; and the potential harmony is buried 
in actual honest discord. 

In after times something of this discord actually showed 
itself in the relations between the disciples of Dominic and 
those of Francis ; though the greater spirits amongst them 
ever remembered the founders' friendship and were true to 
it.^ Historians of a certain type have made the most of 
those open antagonisms: though they were such as one 

' See the discourse of St. Francis on the virtues of Poverty in Fioreiti, 
cap. 12; Actus, cap. 13. 

^Thus Tliomas of Oelano, after referring to the dissensions between the 

two fraternities, pleads for the wider charity of the founders II Celano 149. 

In 1255 John of Parma and Humbert de Eomanis, the two Superiors-General 


might look for in dealing with the story of men. But what 
was of more serious moment was, not the pointed disputes 
which generally ended in further protestations of friendship, 
but the more or less unconscious spirit of rivalry, under 
which the names of religion often cloaked purely secular 
ambitions : as when Brother Elias divided the Franciscan 
Order into seventy-two provinces, professedly in honour of the 
seventy-two disciples of the Gospel, but really to gain a 
tactical advantage over the Dominicans, who had formed their 
order into twelve provinces in honour of the Apostles.' 

These things did harm to the fraternities and might have 
been avoided. But further there was the inevitable influence 
which two bodies of men, brought into frequent alliance with 
each other and both standing near to the supreme authority 
in the Church, were bound to exercise upon each other's de- 
velopment. This is not the place to discuss the points of 
detail in which either fraternity borrowed from the other in 
organization and mental outlook. Some say that Dominic 
borrowed from Francis the rule of mendicancy which he im- 
posed on his brethren ; it seems certain that the example of 
the Dominicans led to the first formation of theological 
studies amongst the Friars Minor. Here, however, we only 
refer to these matters, which belong to the later history of 
Francis and his fraternity, as showing how events which 
happened during the Lateran Council, were the seeds of much 

issued a joint pastoral ordering the friars of the two orders to maintain peace 
and concord. Many instances might be cited from the chronicles of the time, 
showing the fraternal regard of the two fraternities for each other, side by 
side with instances of dissension : e.g. Eccleston relates not only the dispute 
of the two orders regarding novices (coll. xi.v ed. Little, p. 101-2) but also how 
on their arrival in London the Friars Minor were lodged by the Dominicajis 
" as members of the family " (coll. ii. pp. 11, 12). 
' Eooleaton, ed. Little, coll. ix. p. 54. 


that occurred in the further unfolding of Franciscan story. 
The destiny of the fraternity was being shaped, not merely 
by the inspiration of Francis, but by its alhance with the 
world-forces upon which the Catholic world was being carried 
forward in the hot rush of a fully awakened life. 

' VU(S Fratrtim in Monumenta Orel. FF. PP. vol. i. pars 1, p. 10. It has 
been contended that the meeting of Francis and Dominic here mentioned must 
liave talten place in 1216, not 1215, since the author of Vita Fratrmn says that 
St. Dominic had come to Rome ^jro ordinis confirmacione. It is true that 
the Dominican Order was actually confirmed by Honorius III in 1216 ; but 
Dominic went to Rome in 1215 to seek the confirmation of his Order by 
Innocent III. The confirmation was delayed owing to the new decree of the 
Council referred to later in the text. (Note for p. 215.) 



When Francis again turned his steps towards Umbria, it was 
with a vast pity for the world upon which the judgment of 
the Church was to fall. That passion for souls which had 
been with him since his first call to the apostolate, had be- 
come a throbbing pain. From all his preaching tours he had 
come back to the Porziuncola, more solicitous to save the 
sinner and to bring all the earth to a knowledge of the joy to 
be had in the service of Christ. He found it hard to be- 
lieve that the greatest sinner would not repent bitterly of his 
wrong-doing and become a true follower of the Gospel, did 
he but know the beauty of the law of Christ and his own loss 
in ignoring it.-"^ And how he yearned to see the whole 
earth bound in fealty and comradeship with the Incarnate 
God, and the unnatural divorce ended which kept them 
apart ! 

More and more as the years went on, the image of the 
Divine Master to whom he had given his worship, came to dif- 
fuse itself through all his vision. Nothing met his eye but what 
in some direct way carried his thoughts to his Lord : a lamb 
being led to the market made him think of Jesus Christ in 
the hands of His executioners ; in the leper he saw Him 
marked with the guilt which was not His own ; every babe 

»Cf. llCelano, 133. 


took him in spirit to Bethlehem ; the worm crawhng on the 
ground spoke to him of his Lord's humiliation ; flowers 
with their sweetness of colour and scent, reminded him of the 
sweetness of the life with Christ ; a bm-ning lamp, of the 
heavenly Light which came to men : Christ the Eock, the 
sure foundation of the Christian's hope, stood before him in 
mind whenever he came to a rocky ground.^ 

And these things of earth were not mere arbitrary sym- 
bols of Him he loved. In them he felt that the Christ-life 
was really adumbrated and in some sense lived, as the artist's 
life in the work of his hands. All suffering, he believed, was 
in a mysterious fashion allied with the suffering of Christ ; all 
rightful joy, with His joy ; all life with His life. 

A theologian might explain this by saymg that all created 
things are made after the image of the Eternal Word of God 
which Christ is in His Divinity ; and that in His Humanity 
Christ adopted the created life into His own greater inherit- 
ance. But Francis was not a theologian : he uttered his 
beliefs as they inspired him, without inquiring for logical 
expositions ; and most frequently the utterance was not in 
words but in a mental attitude or the heart's emotion. But 
did you ask him why he delighted in earth and sky, he would 
tell you, because they revealed to him the Creator who made 
them ; ^ did you ask why he reverenced the poor man begging 
by the wayside, he would say : " Brother, when you see a 
poor man you have set before you a mirror of the Lord and 
His poor mother ". Or as regarding the sick : " In the sick 
you see the infirmities which He took upon Himself for our 
sake ".^ But he could never serve the poor or sick without 

iCf. I Celano, 77-81 ; II Oelano, 165; Spec. Perfect. 116-18. 
«I Celano, 80 Sfj. ^H Celano, 85, 


feeling that he was serving his Lord in their persons : in 
their service he sought His Master.^ 

This same v\^orshipful tenderness showed itself in other 
ways. He would never allow the brethren to uproot a tree or 
to cut it down in such wise that it could not grow again ; nor 
would he allow them so to enclose a garden that the flowers 
and growing things, could not spread out in their natural 
freedom. He would take up the worms and slow moving 
insects from the road where they might be crushed under foot 
and put them in safety. In a hard frost he was known to 
put sweet wine and honey near the bees that they might not 
die of hunger.^ All life to him was sacred, because it came 
from the Hand of God. 

His boundless pity for the sinner was fed by this same 
reverence. For no matter how sinful a man might be, he 
was of the flesh and blood and humanity which Christ had 
fashioned and taken to Himself. His very jealousy for the 
sovereignty of the Redeemer made him wistful for the salva- 
tion of the redeemed. He could not honour his Divine 
Lord and yet not honour the latent Christ-life he saw in his 
Lord's possible disciples : and beyond the guiltiness of the 
sinner he always saw that nobility : whence came in part 
his unconquerable hopefulness in deaHng with the wrong- 
doer. And to this faith of his were due many miracles of 
unlikely conversions. Men accustomed to be judged solely 
by the evil they had done and holding themselves, despairingly 
or cynically, damned by such judgment, were subdued by this 
new standard of judgment. Incredulously at first they would 
listen to an appeal which assumed that they were not wholly 
evil but capable of much good. They were softened and 
grew shy when this saint, as they held him, took for granted 

iliirf., 90. ' Hid., 1G5. 



the better nature in which they themselves hardly ventured 
to believe : until gradually they began to believe in his beHef, 
and that for some was the beginning of a life of heroic en- 
deavour to become what Francis bade them become: as 
happened with a band of robbers at Monte Casale in the 
mountains behind Borgo San Sepolcro. For some of the 
brethren who hved in a hermitage there, were ruthless in 
their opinion of the robbers and regarded them as wholly 
lost to all grace. But Francis would not have it so. He told 
the brethren to invite the robbers to the hermitage and first 
satisfy their hunger with good bread and wine ; and when 
they were no longer hungry, to speak to them of the love of 
God. Finding that the robbers were not at once converted, he 
bade the brethren invite them again but to a more sumptuous 
banquet of eggs and cheese ; and then again to set before the 
robbers the advantages of a good life and to appeal to them 
to do penance and live honestly. The robbers were won by 
the brotherliness of the appeal, and began to bring firewood 
from the woods for the brethren's use in return for the food 
they received at the hermitage. Finally they all vowed to 
live honestly by the labour of their hands for the future, and 
three of them asked to be admitted to the fraternity and were 
gladly welcomed by Francis ; and in the end these became 
most saintly men.^ Indeed not a few of the brethren had 
thus been won over from utter worldliness or sinfulness, by the 
tenderness born of his reverence with which Francis dealt 
with them at the outstart. 

But if his faith in the latent goodness of human nature, 
worked miracles of conversion, it also accounted much for the 
sorrow with which the world's sin at times overwhelmed him. 
Had his vision of the latent godliness which is in man, been less 

' Spec. Perfect, cap, 66 ; Fioretti, cap. 25 ; Actus, cap. 29. 


constant and clear, he would have grieved less over the sinner : 
sin vFOuld have been less of an outrage upon God's creating 
and redeeming love ; less of a loss to man. As it was, the 
sorrow of Christ had come upon him and was to work his 
martyrdom in the end. 

And now we must relate how this pity for his fellow-men 
led Francis to seek from the Pope an amazing privilege, as it 
was thought in those days, namely the great indulgence of 
the Porziuncola. The incident has this curious feature at- 
tached to it, that for half a century after the death of Francis 
this indulgence, which was eventually to rank the Porziuncola 
as one of the four chief shrines of Christendom, was fenced 
about with a singular silence on the part of the official bio- 
graphers of the saint and is not mentioned by any chronicler 
of the time. And for that reason some have denied that it is 
authentically a part of Francis' story. Yet though the first 
written witness to the indulgence was made some sixty years 
after the favour was granted — but, be it remembered, within 
the memory of Francis' contemporaries ; and though even 
that same written witness has given legitimate grounds for 
discussion as to its reliability — nevertheless for reasons which 
will be given elsewhere in this book,' I for my part hold that 
the story as here given is authentic, and moreover I will sug- 
gest how that indulgence came to be asked for, and why for 
so many years it was guarded with silence. 

And first, for the authentic story. One night in the 
summer of 1216,' Francis rose from his bed, whilst yet the 

' Vide Appendix II, p. 477 seq. 

2 The date of the incident is fixed by the attestation of Benedict of Arezzo 
that Pope Honorius III was at Perugia when Francis obtained the indulgence. 
But Honorius was at Perugia certainly from the date of his election, 18 July 
until the winter of 1216. Nor is there any indication of his being again there 
during his pontificate, though Wadding asserts that lie passed through Perugia 

15 * 


other brothers were sleeping, and went into the chapel of the 
Porziuncola to pray, and as he prayed the Divine Presence 
manifested itself to him, and in vision he beheld Jesus Christ 
Who bade him go to the Pope and ask that whosoever should 
visit the church of the Porziuncola, being truly contrite of heart 
and having already confessed his sins, should receive a plenary 
indulgence, that is, be freed from all temporal punishment 
due to sin.^ Francis in his wonted fashion made no delay in 
fulfiUing the Divine Will, but at early dawn called Brother 
Masseo and with him set out for Perugia to seek the Sovereign 
Pontiff. Now, whether this journey was undertaken before 
the death of Innocent III we cannot saj^ But Francis was 
present when Innocent died at Perugia on 16 July, and he 
was one of the few who remained by the side of the Pontiff 
in his last moments, when most of the attendants fled away 
in terror of disease and death. ^ 

In any case, however, it was to Pope Honorius III that 
Francis actually made his petition. Honorius, who was 
elected two days after Innocent's death, was a man of an un- 
worldly mind and simple habits, careless about wealth and 
generous to the poor. " Holy Father," said Francis, coming 
into the Papal presence, " but a little while past I restored 
for you ^ a church in honour of the Virgin Mother of Christ, 

on his way to Bologna in October, 1^21. But Wadding's evidence at this point 
is self-oontrsdiotory, since he says Francis was aooompaniod by Peter Catlianii, 
wlio in fact died in the preceding Marcli. 

' The reader not acquainted with Gatliolio teaching must understand that 
an " indulgence" does not mean a pardon of the guilt of sin but a release 
from the temporal punishment which still remains due as an expiation even 
after the guilt is forgiven. No "indulgence" can be gained until after the 
guilt has been wiped out by true contrition. 

° Booleston [ed. Little], col. xv. p. 119. 

'■> The phrase " I restored for you " is curious. It may mean tliat Francis 
would not claim any rights whatever in the church he had restored : it be- 

The pokziuncola indulgence 229 

and I beseech your holiness that you bestow upon it an in- 
dulgence without any oblation." The Pope replied that an 
indulgence without an oblation attached to it, could not well 
be granted, since it was fitting that those who sought such 
a favour, should make some sacrifice and put forth a helping 
hand to gain it. Yet he would know for how many years 
Francis desired the indulgence to be granted — whether it was 
to continue for one year or three years or seven ; also, how 
much ot an indulgence he sought. Francis pleaded : " Holy 
Father, may it please your holiness to grant not years but 
souls". Something in the heart of the unworldly Pontiff 
bade him ask: "How would you have souls?" Francis 
made reply: "If it please your holiness, I would that whoso- 
ever should come to this church, confessed and contrite and 
absolved by a priest, should be freed from all guilt and 
penalty both in heaven and on earth, from the day of their 
baptism till the hour of their entry into this church ". " It 
is much that you ask," said the Pope, " and it is not the cus- 
tom of the Roman Church to grant such an indulgence." 
" My lord," came the instant reply, " what I ask is not from 
myself but from Him Who sent me, the Lord Jesus Christ." 
Honorius, as we have said, was an unworldly man : and so 
Francis' simple faith won the day against the dictates of offi- 
cial prudence. " It is my will that you have what you seek," 
said the Pontiff : and he repeated the words twice over. But 
at this some cardinals, who were present, intervened. The 
grant of such an indulgence would make the indulgences of 
the Crusades, and of the Toml^s of the Apostles, valueless in 

ionged to the Church inasmuch as it was dedicated to divine service, and to 
the Benedictines as trustees for the Church. Or the words may refer to the 
coming consecration of the church, which would make it in a special sense the 
property of the Church. 


the eyes of the people, and they urged the Pope to recall his 
words. But Honorius would not go back on his word : only 
in deference to the cardinals he would restrict the indulgence 
to one day in the year, namely the dedication day of the 
Church : for it was now determined that the church should 
be rightly consecrated and the consecration was fixed for the 
day following the feast of St. Peter's Chains.^ Francis pleaded 
that the indulgence should continue at least during the octave 
of the festival : but to this the Pope would not consent ; 
what he had already granted was in the face of the opposi- 
tion of his counsellors ; he would not grant more. Francis 
bowed to this decision and was turning away to leave the 
papal presence, when the Pope called to him : " Simpleton 
that you are, where are you going ? what have you to show 
that this indulgence has been granted you ? " " Holy Father," 
replied Francis, " your word is sufficient for me. If this is 
the work of God it is for Him to make His work manifest. 
I desire no other document : but the Blessed Virgin Mary 
shall be the charter and Christ the notary ; and the angels 
shall be the witnesses." 

So saying, he withdrew and at once took his way back to 
Assisi. But his spirit was troubled nevertheless at finding 
himself a centre of contention amongst the rulers of the 
Church. He had gone to the Pope, thinking only of the 
harvest of poor souls which this indulgence would reap. 
He had not thought, in his simplicity, that any contention 

1 It is uncertain whether the consecration of the chapel had been already 
determined upon before Francis came to Perugia or whether it was now de- 
termined upon in consequence of the grant of the indulgence. The feast of 
St. Peter's Chains is on 1 August. The consecration, therefore, was to take 
place on 2 August. According to Blessed Francis of Fabriauo, the consecration 
actually took place on 2 August, 1216 (Bartholi, Tract de Indiilg. ed. Saba- 
tier, p. Ixix). 


could arise concerning it : and now the cardinals were in 
protest and the Pope himself was evidently timorous of his 
own act. By noon he and Masseo reached the leper hospital 
about midway between Perugia and Assisi ; and here they 
sought food and rest. Fatigued with the hot journey, Francis 
fell asleep. AVhen he awoke he spent some little time in 
prayer ; and then he called Brother Masseo and said to 
him : " Brother Masseo, I tell thee on the part of God that 
the indulgence which has been granted me by the Sovereign 
Pontiff, has been confirmed in heaven " : and with that as- 
surance in his soul, Francis went forward again, all content. 
The consecration of the little church was duly made, 
seven bishops taking part in the ceremony. Francis preached 
from a wooden pulpit erected outside the church, and an- 
nounced the indulgence. " I want to send you all to Para- 
dise," he said, " and I announce to you an indulgence I have 
received from the lips of the Sovereign Pontiff. And all you 
who have come here to-day and all who shall come each year 
on this day, with a good and contrite heart, shall have an 
indulgence of all their sins. I wanted it for eight days but I 
could not get it." ^ But beyond this announcement Francis 
took no further heed to make the indulgence generally known. 
He had cast it upon the world in obedience to the Divine 
command : for the rest he left it in God's Hands to manifest 
His work as He willed. In time the opposition of the cardi- 
nals would die away : meanwhile the brethren must avoid 
any appearance of strife with the pastors of the Church : 

' Cf. Pet. Zalfani's witness in Eartholi, op. cit. p. 54. Zalfani was present 
at the consecration. He was a patrician of Assisi and supported tlie Pope 
in the struggle with Frederick II, and assisted at the canonization of St. 
Stanislaus in 1253 in the basilica of San Francesco. Cf. Miscell, Franc, vol. 
X. p. 75. 


more surely would the good-will of the clergy be won by 
meekness and more good accrue to the souls of men.^ And 
so he bade the brethren not to preach this indulgence to 
the world yet awhile but to wait upon the Will of God." 

It was many years before the brethren ventured to pro- 
claim the indulgence far and wide, but in Umbria the story 
was told by those who had been present at the consecration 
of the little church ; and amongst their friends the brethren 
did not conceal a privilege which crowned with a new sanct- 
ity the place already so holy in their eyes. The pilgrims 
visiting the Church on the annual festival day of its dedica- 
tion confessed their sins and within its walls prayed for that 
fuller pardon which Francis had obtained for them. 

During the half-century that followed the granting of 
the indulgence it seemed as though the time for its wider 
promulgation would never come. The Pope and the cardinals 
were making every effort to induce the Christian nations to 
carry out the crusade, and chief amongst the inducements 
were the indulgences attached to the taking of the Cross and 
to the fitting out of the crusading army in the case of those 
who could not take part in the crusade themselves. The 
time was inopportune for the proclaiming of any new indul- 
gence which might attract the attention of the people away 
from the urgent necessities of the Holy Land. And then, 
too, amongst the brethren who came after Francis, there were 
some who would readily have sided with the protesting 
cardinals and clergy in this matter. For during this period 
of which we are speaking, the Friars Minor together with 

1 Of. II Oelano, 146; " Scitote, iiiquit, fialres, animarum frwAum Deo 
gratissimvm esse i/ieliusque ilium coiisequi posse pace, quain discordia cleri- 
coruin ". 

^ Vide attestatiou of Giacomo Coppoli in Bartlioli, op. cit. p. 52. 


the Friars Preachers, were the accredited agents of the Holy 
See in fostering the crusade and collecting the funds for it.^ 

Thus it happened that Francis' dream of a great pardon 
for all contrite sinners, was for many years unfulfilled save for 
the pilgrims who visited the Porziuncola from the near neigh- 
bourhood. But in spite of the discretion of the brethren the 
annual pilgrimage survived and grew in numbers. Before 
the end of the century, crowds from all parts of Italy flocked 
every year on the dedication-festival to the Porziuncola in the 
hope of pardon : nor has the flow of pilgrims ceased in all the 
centuries since. And not only from Italy have the pilgrims 
come ; but from all nations of the Christian world. Surely 
in this matter Francis' faith and meekness have been 
abundantly justified. 

Now let me tell you how it was, as I think, that Francis 
came to ask for this indulgence. It was in truth the immedi- 
ate outcome of that vast pity for the world in which his 
spirit had been steeped at the time of the General Council. 
He had gone forth from the Council with the Pope's pro- 
clamation of judgment and mercy sounding in his ears and 
vibrating in his heart. He had taken to himself that symbol 
of the renewed life in Christ, the Thau, with which he would 
mark, if men were willing, all the earth. And yet his mission 
would be in some way incomplete unless he could bring to 
those who received the Thau, that full pardon from penalty 
and guilt which the Pontiff had solemnly granted to those 
who took part in the crusade either personally or by proxy. ^ 

^"Exiis qui religionem sanctorum Dominici et Francisci professi erant 
plurimos [Gregorius] emisit qui per totam Europam Christianas ad bellum 
Saracenis inferendum ad hortarentur " (Vita Oregorii IS in Goncilioruin 
[Parisiis, 1644], torn, xxviii. p. 273.) The friars " Pardoners " became a feature 
of the ecclesiastical system under Gregory IX and his successors. 

- Labbffius, torn. xxii. pp. 955-60. 


For many could never avail themselves of the proffered par- 
don. Francis found himself yearnmg for a more generous 
extension of the indulgence. True, one might gain it not only 
by going oneself on the crusade but by giving an alms in its 
support. But there vs^ere the poor who had no alms to give. 
And somehow that condition of alms — meaning money-offer- 
ings — right as it was in itself, placed the indulgence outside 
the domain of that poverty which Christ Himself loved. To 
exclude the poor from a full share in the mercy of the Church 
in this time of judgment, seemed an injury to the poor Christ. 
And then it was that Francis saw in the church of the Porzi- 
uncola which Christ and His blessed Mother had given to the 
Lady Poverty as her own sanctuary, the fitting shrine for 
this extended favour. 

That little church had become to him in very truth another 
holy place : was it not beckoning forward that spiritual 
crusade for which the Pontiff pleaded as a condition of the 
release of the Holy Land ? And was it not the nursing- 
mother of that new hfe which the brethren were to spread 
through the world ? The intensity of the thought kept him 
much at the Porziuncola during these days ; ^ it knit his soul 
in a closer mystic communing with this place of his love ; it 
was the subject of his prayer. And then came the vision and 
response to his prayer and his appeal to the Pope. 

' Papini says St. Francis evangelized Terra di Lavoro, the Abruzzi and 
Apulia before returning to Assisi. But if Mgr. Falooi Pulignani and Mr. 
Montgomery Carmichael are right in their judgment (and I gee no reason to 
doubt it) Francis about this time repaired the churcli of Sta. Maria Maggiore 
in Assisi. Cf. Uiscell. Franc, vol. ii. pp. 33-7 ; Franciscan Annals, February, 




The reader who has attentively followed the course of this 
history, must have felt that sooner or later the time would 
come when the simple faith of the brethren in the ruling of 
Francis would be put to the test. Scattered throughout 
many provinces and brought frequently into contact with all 
conditions of men and the actual facts of the world, they 
will hardly in the ordinary way of things remain secluded 
in their exalted idealism and simplicity. 

For one thing the life of Friar Minor touched the world 
at too many points, to remain untouched by it. 

The vocation of the fraternity was not merely a negation 
or judgment of the world's life ; not even mainly so. It stood 
indeed in direct contradiction with the actual world on many 
matters of vital interest, as in its renunciation of property 
and its policy of peace ; but the fraternity itself was borne in 
its birth and progress, upon the wings of that surgent aspira- 
tion which in matters spiritual and secular was rending 
the old order and bringing in the new ; and it was as a 
directive rather than as a negative spirit that it entered into 



the world. In Francis the new romantic temper of the age, 
voiced by troubadour and crusader, was joyously carried into 
the service of religion and shot through and through with 
spiritual values. The fraternity could not escape its birth 
and affinities.! It was in truth a product of the Time-spirit 
and had therefore a natural relationship with all the seething 
world in which the Time-spirit could claim a parental right. 
That, together with the striking personaHty of Francis, is the 
explanation of the wonderful influence and immediate success 
of the movement ; that too accounts for much of the trouble 
which is shortly to enter in amongst the brethren and bring 
bitter sorrow to the heart of Francis. 

On the face of things the trouble began in the endeavour 
to give the fraternity a more definite organization. Until now 
it might be said that Francis was not merely the leader of the 
brethren but their law. They might not all imitate him in 
every detail of his daily life as did Brother John the Simple, 
who went so far as to kneel when Francis knelt and to cough 
when he coughed ; - but in the more intimate concerns of their 
vocation they looked to him as their book of life. Without 
any exaggeration it might be said that the fraternity lived in 
Francis and saw the world through his interpretation of it : 
so the brethren came to appreciate poverty and song, the 
service of love and suffering. Until now they were un- 
troubled by any obtrusive question as to their relationship 
with the world which lay outside the life of the Porziuncola 
which Francis had fashioned there. The atmosphere of that 
life they carried with them, however distant they might 
travel ; it was their conventual grille through which they 

' Gf. The Friars and how they came to England, by the present writer, In- 
troductory Essay, p. 13 seq. 

2C£. II Celano, 190; Spec. Perfect, cap. 57. 


conversed with the world at large. They still beheved in the 
all-sufficiency of divine faith and love to win the world to 
Christ : they did not trouble about the human means. And 
in truth the human means which they had, their own fervent 
speech and persuasive sympathies and their hard laborious 
lives, were effective enough for the purpose Francis had 
actually set before them. 

Nevertheless, from the moment that Francis had sent the 
brethren forth to win the world to Christ, and had thrown 
the fraternity wide open to admit all sorts and conditions of 
men, the troublous problem of the relationship of the brethren 
with the outer world was latent, only waiting for circum- 
stances to reveal it. A world-wide society cannot be 
governed and led by a simple and immediate dependence 
upon a single personality : of necessity a system of govern- 
ment must grow up which will stand, if not between the 
founder's personality and his disciples, at least as the more 
immediate rule to which both founder and disciple must sub- 
mit. The fraternity will then develop a corporate conscious- 
ness in some way distinct from the personal consciousness 
of the founder : it will become impressionable to views other 
than those which commend themselves to him ; it may even 
find itself thinking in contradiction against him. Sometimes 
behind the immediate contradiction there will be a real agree- 
ment of purpose ; sometimes not. These divergences of view 
may result from the intrusions into the fraternity, of elements 
foreign to its own proper spirit and purpose and the essential 
mind of the founder ; they may also arise from a mere exten- 
sion of purpose beyond that of which the founder himself is 
explicitly conscious, but which is inherent in the vocation 
itself of the brethren. 

Once, then, the fraternity is spread far and wide and 


become less immediately dependent on the personality of 
Francis, such vexing problems are sure to arise ; the more 
surely because the origins of the fraternity are, as we have 
said, in the spirit of the age itself even more truly than in the 
person of its fouDder. Thus as this story proceeds we shall 
find the fraternity troubled as to its proper relationship with 
the intellectual life of the time ; and troubles will arise too 
in regard to its co-ordination with other elements in the 
common life of the Catholic Church, with established tradi- 
tions, papal policy and such like. In all these matters lie pit- 
falls for the weak and unsteady, and the foreboding of sorrow. 

The General Chapter of 1217 marks the parting of the 
ways in the development of the fraternity. Not that this 
Chapter had to determine any of the difficult questions which 
were so soon to cause trouble, but because the policy of ex- 
pansion and organization therein initiated, inevitably led to 
a loosening of the close intimacy between the brethren and 
Francis and to a weakening of their sense of immediate 
dependence upon him. 

The Chapter assembled at Whitsuntide. Easter that year 
had fallen in the very first of the spring days and so the Pente- 
cost festival came early before the hot sun had spoilt the 
freshness of tree and soil.^ 

From all the "places" and hermitages of the Order 
brethren came, many of them newly-received novices who 
had not yet looked upon the face of Francis.^ They came 
from Lombardy and Apulia, from Terra di Lavoro and the 
mountains overlooking the Adriatic, in fact from every Italian 

' In 1217 Pentecost fell on 14 May. 

= At the early Chapters all the brethren, whether professed or novices 
might attend. Cf. Chron. Jordani in Anal. Franc, i. p. 6; Eccleston [ej 
Little], p. 60. 


province. For many of them it was a home-coming ; they 
knew the Porziuncola and loved the shade of its surrounding 
wood where they had prayed and felt the stirrings of the 
heavenly hfe which nowhere seemed so near and so real as 
in the silences of that holy place. And to the novices and 
those who had not yet been there, it was the turning of their 
faces towards the Holy Zion from the captivity in which they 
had been born. The glory of their vocation was still alto- 
gether gathered up in Francis and the wattle huts near Assisi. 
As the brethren met and welcomed each other their tongues 
betrayed their origin or up-bringing. Some spoke with their 
native grace of noble birth ; others with the acquired distinc- 
tion gained in the schools ; whilst others had only the art of 
speech which they had learned toiling for daily bread. The 
soft sibilant utterance of Umbria mingled with the guttural 
dialects of Lombardy and the strident tones of the South. 
But here and there was a brother whose words bespoke a 
comer from beyond the Alps ; one who passing through Italy, 
had met the brethren and joined their ranks : but as yet the 
ultramontane brethren were but a handful. 

Assembled at the Porziuncola, they gathered together in 
groups and built for themselves huts of branches of trees, 
which they collected in the woods around. Though they 
were an assembly of many hundreds, no distracting noise was 
allowed in the neighbourhood of the holy chapel, and no loud 
voice save that of the brother told off to preach. As a rule 
the brethren must speak in low tones and only when necessary 
or when they met in small companies to converse on spiritual 
matters or the affairs of their vocation.^ But the silence was 
eloquent with the feehng of life as is the silence of the spring 
time in the fields. 

' Cf. Spec. Perfect, cap. 82 ; Actus, cap. 20. 


It was a silent uncontentious parliament if you will ; yet a 
true parliament, for every brother, even the youngest novice, 
might proffer an opinion and would be respectfully listened 
to. The Chapter was not a mere parade but a deliberative 
assembly. They gathered together to learn in prayer and 
mutual intercourse the Divine AVill concerning them : each 
must speak as his conscience impelled himj but none thought 
to dictate to the others or to impose his own opinion. About 
the ultimate decisions of the Chapter they had little anxiety : 
these would be as God willed. For the multitude of the 
brethren were still living by faith and joyous in the vocation 
they had found. 

Doubtless amongst so many there were some already in- 
clined to criticize the simplicity of the fraternity ; men trained 
in the assertive knowledge of the schools, in decretals and 
jurisprudence ; or accustomed to handle affairs in the world 
and not forgetful of their experience : but their criticism was 
held in check by the triumphant faith and devotion to their 
leader which swayed the gathering. 

Two matters had been set down for prayer and considera- 
tion : the appointment of Provincial ministers and the send- 
ing of brethren to establish the fraternity in the countries 
outside the Italian peninsula. The second proposal merely 
signified an extension of the active apostolate of the fraternity, 
but it rendered more urgently necessary the more systematic 
organization of the fraternity implied in the appointment of 
the Provincial ministers. 

It would be difficult in any organized system of govern- 
ment to maintain the pristine simplicity which until now 
had characterized the relations of the brethren with their 
superiors. The rule of the fraternity was that whenever a 
number of brethren were living together or travelling on a 


journey, one of them was chosen whom the others were to 
regard as God's Vicar.^ and to whom they must render 
obedience. But the conception of authority and obedience 
as between the brethren, was of that pervading yet easy 
character which holds in a family or company closely knit 
by mutual regard and established m one mind and purpose ; 
where too the burdens of authority and obedience are felt 
lightly because they are borne at the same time by the entire 
body. Erancis' idea of the function of a superior in the 
fraternity was that of a mother tending her household : it 
was the antithesis of the idea of lordship.^ Jesus Christ 
only could claim that function amongst the brethren ; His 
word as set forth in the Rule and in the common law of 
the Church, was the only absolute law ; and to this all the 
brethren were equally subject. But the superior had the care 
of the brethren in the observing of this law : he would in- 
terpret to them the Will of Christ in its application to the 
details of daily life, yet not in the spirit of a personal domin- 
ance which did not belong to him, but as one administering 
the law to which he, as well as others, were immediately 

Hence he must regard himself as the servant of the fra- 
ternity and himself set the example of that "true and holy 
obedience " which consists in " voluntary and mutual service 

i Of. 3 Soc. i6. 

-Thus Celano says of Francis and Brother Elias : "quern loco matris 
elegerat sibi" (I Celano, 98). See also the description of Bro. Pacifico, by 
Bro. Thomas of Tuscany in Mon. Germ. Hist. Script, xxii. p. 492 : " Frater 
POfCificus . . . ut a beato Francisco pia mater appcllarelur". The idea is also 
explicitly set forth in that interesting document, " De religiosa habitations in 
eremo " (Opuscula, pp. 83-4). The same conception underlies the title bestowed 
upon the local superiors who were styled custodes, wardens or guardians— and 
not priors or masters as in other religious communities. 



and subjection ". For the motive of this obedience is charity, 
the love of Christ and of the brotherhood for Christ's sake ; 
and it is the charity which induces a man to serve another 
wilHngly even in the most menial acts.^ This " true and 
holy obedience " was binding equally upon him who held the 
office of superior as upon all the brethren : it was part of the 
fealty which the fraternity owed to Him Who " is not come 
to be ministered unto but to minister".^ Authority thus ex- 
pressed in a service of love and estranged from any thought 
of personal predominance, was received with exalted reverence 
as the authority of the divinely-humble Christ Himself and 
worshipfuUy obeyed. Criticism of a superior's judgment was 
felt to be a disloyalty to the vocation itself. The brethren 
would obey the known wish of the superior even though he 
did not impose it : ^ but the motive was loyalty to the Lord 
Whom they had vowed to follow ; they obeyed Christ in the 
superior.'' And this high obedience was the more easily given 
when authority itself bore the marks of Christ's meek service. 

Francis' idea of obedience was in truth drawn from the 
romance of chivalry ; it was the knightly fealty and service 
and not the servile submission of the legists. 

But this chivalric conception of obedience demands an 
initial condition of liberty — of soul-hberty even more than 
political or economic — and a constant loyalty, not easily 

1 " Per caritatevi spiritus voluntarie seroiant ct obediant invicem. Et Jiac 
est vera et sancta ohedientia Domini nostri Jesu Christi " (Reg. i. cap. v.). 
" Et nullus vocetur prior sed generaliter omnes vocentur fratres minores. Et 
alter alter ius lavet pedes " (ibid. cap. vi. Cf. Regula ii. cap. x.). 

2 Matthew xx. 28 (Vulgate) quoted in Eeg. i. cap. iv. Hence the superior 
was bound in virtue of this obedience to share the hardships of the brethren. 
See infra, Francis' discourse to the friars. 

3Cf. 3 Soc. 42. 

■■Cf. II Celauo, 151: " Subditus, inquit, prcelatum suum nan liominem 
considerare debet, sed ilium pro cujus amore est subjcctus ". 


maintained in a wide and numerous body of men : it soon 
needs the support of that more impersonal and coercive law 
upon which states are built. The organization of the frater- 
nity into provinces under Provincial ministers was due not 
merely to the extension of the Order : it was the expression 
of the need, beginning to be felt, of a more systematic organi- 
zation and more impersonal objective government. Highly 
sensitive as he was, Erancis knew that with the appointment 
of Provincial ministers, something of the simple fraternal life 
of his " knights of the Round Table " ^ must go : yet he was 
intently anxious that the primitive character of the fraternity 
should still maintain itself within the more legal bonds. The 
superiors must still be ministers and custodes, not priors or 
masters. In promulgating the decision of the Chapter, he thus 
pleadingly described their office and duty : " The ministers 
must be the servants of the other brethren and tend them as 
a shepherd tends his sheep, often visiting them and spiritually 
instructing and encouraging them. The other brethren on 
their part must obey the minister in all things which are not 
contrary to the hfe of a Eriar Minor. 

" And between the ministers and the brethren there shall 
be this rule of conduct : ' Whatsoever ye will that men 
should do unto you, that do ye to them ' ; and again this : 
' what thou wouldst not have done unto thyself, do it not 
unto another '. And let the minister-servants remember 
what the Lord says : ' I came not to be ministered unto but 
to minister ; and that to them is committed the care of the 
souls of the brethren, and should anyone be lost through the 
minister's fault and bad example, that minister will have to 
render an account before our Lord Jesus Christ '." ^ 

' Spec. Perfect, cap. 72. ^ Eeg. i. cap. iv. 

16 * 


Thus was the office of Provincial minister established and 

The provinces were divided according to established geo- 
graphical boundaries : thus in Italy there were provinces of 
Umbria, Tuscany, the Marches of Ancona, Lombardy, Terra 
di Lavoro, Apulia, and Calabria. A certain liberty of choice 
was given to the brethren as to the province they would join ; 
but generally the brethren preferred to leave themselves in 
the hands of the ministers.^ But the stirring moment of the 
Chapter was when volunteers were called for, to undertake 
missions beyond the Alps. Probably few amongst the 
brethren realized the importance of the institution of the 
ministers. But the missions beyond the Alps appealed to 
their imagination. True, the countries designated, Spain 
and Portugal and France, Germany and Hungary (and, as 
some say, Syria ^ ) were all Catholic countries ; but the people 
were strange, speaking unknown tongues. Few of the 
brethren had travelled far beyond their native Italian pro- 
vince, and the countries beyond the Alps were to them the 
land of echo. The chosen bands of missionaries were there- 
fore looked upon with something of awe and reverence. No 
one knew what hardships they might have to encounter. 

Not the least uplifted in spirit was Francis as he gazed 
upon these elect companions. To him it was a renewal of 
the joy of adventure he had felt in the first days of his own 
missionary journeys. Nor could he long resist the call their 
hardihood made to him. Taking aside some of the brethren 

' Gf. Chron. Jnrdani in Anal. Franc, i. no. 18, p. 7, also the case of St. 
Anthony of Padua at the Chapter o£ 1221, mfra, p. £60. 

2 Syria in this case would mean that part which was within the Latin 
kingdom of Jerusalem and not the Mahomedan territories. Tide infra 
p. 246 note 1. 


he addressed them : "My best beloved, it is but right that I 
should be a pattern and example to all the brethren. I have 
sent brethren into far-off parts to undergo much labour and 
shame and hunger and thirst and other necessities : it is only 
just therefore, and holy obedience requires, that I too go forth 
into some distant land ; and so will the brethren be en- 
couraged to endure patiently their adversities, vphen they 
hear that I suffer the same. Go therefore and pray that the 
Lord may grant me to make choice of the province that shall 
be most to His praise and the profit of souls and the encour- 
agement of the brethren." The brothers therefore went and 
prayed as he bade them. When they came back, Francis 
met them, bis face lit up with expectant joy. " In the name 
of our Lord Jesus Christ and the glorious Virgin Mary and 
all the saints," he exclaimed, " I choose the province of 
France wherein is a Cathohc people who more than all other 
Catholics manifest a special reverence towards the Body of 
Christ, which reverence is most pleasing to me. Wherefore 
will I most readily go amongst them." ^ But it was not only 
as a land devoted to the Blessed Sacrament that Francis 
loved France, but as the land of courtesy and song; and with 
his happy tact and sense of the harmony of things, he there- 
fore chose as one of his companions on this mission. Brother 
Pacifico, the former " king of verses " or poet laureate.^ 

Some say that Bernard da Quintavalle was the leader of 
the mission to Spain." The mission to Germany was under 
the direction of John of Penna— not he of the beautiful 
visions,^ but another from Penna in the Abruzzi, a skilful 
architect and engineer.' 

1 Spec. Perfect, cap. 65. 2 cf , ig^,. Maj. iv. 9. 

' Cf. Umbria Serafica in Misc. Franc. H. p, 46. ^Fiorelti, cap. ii. 

^ Cf. Fra Egidio Giusti, 0. M. Convent : Chifu leramcnte I' Archiietto della 
Basilica superiore di S. Francesco in Assisi? (Assisi, 1909). 


So the Chapter broke up m a renewal of fervour and en- 
thusiasm, because of this breaking of the new ground beyond 
the Alps ; and immediately afterwards the roads leading from 
the Porz'iuncola, were dotted with groups of friars making 
their way towards their various provinces. ^ 

But before they set out Francis had addressed them thus : 

1 In Series Provinciarum Ord. F.F. M.M., Anno 1217, a P. H. Golubovich, 
in Archivum Fratic. Hist. Annus i. fasc. i. pp. 2-5 : the names of the Provinces 
and Ministers-Provincial are given after Wadding as follows: Tuscany, 
minister unknown ; Marches of Ancona, minister, Benedict of Arezzo ; Milan 
or Lombardy, minister, John of Straohia ; Terra di Lavore, minister, 
Augustine of Assisi ; Apulia, minister unknown ; Calabria, Daniel of Tus- 
cany ; Ocimany, minister, John of Penua ; France, minister, Pacificus, 
"king of verses"; Proveiice, minister, John Bonelli; Spain, minister, 
B3rnard da Quintavalle (?) ; Syria, minister, Elias. The mission to Germany, 
however, proved a failure and the German Province was not really constituted 
till 1221 under the leadership of Cassar of Spires. On other points too this 
list is open to objection. 

The Chron. xxiv. Gen. places the institution of the province of Provence 
in 1219 (cf. Anal. Franc, in. p. 10). It is doubtful too whether Bro. Elias 
was sent to Syria in 1217 or 1219. P. Golubovich's list is supported by 
Sabatier's edition of the Speculum Perfect, cap. 05, which says that at the 
Chapter of 1217 brethren were sent " ad quasdam provincias ultramarinas," 
but in the text of the Speculum edited by P. Lemmeus, the reading is " ad 
quasdam provincias ullramontanas" (ed. Lemmens, cap. 37). The 3 Soc. cap. 
16, says that the brethren at this Chapter were sent "per universas mundi pro- 
vincias in qtiibus Jides catholica colilur et scrvatur," but makes no mention of 
Syria. Giordano da Giano frankly confesses that he does not know whether 
Elias was sent to Syria in 1217 or 1219 [Chruii. Jordani, in Anal. Franc, i. no. 
7, p. 3). Glassberger (Anal. Franc, ii. p. 9) says that at this Chapter the 
friars were sent "fere per universas provincias orbis in quibus fidss Catlwlica 

Tlie Leg. 3 Soc. and Glassberger's Chronicle, however, do not necessarily 
exclude Syria, since there was already a Latin kingdom of Jerusalem with 
many Catholic colonies established in Palestine : and the fact that the General 
Chapter whether of 1217 or 1219 estabhshed a Province of Syria, shows that 
Syria was not altogether considered a missionary region but part of the Catho- 
lic world. 


"In the name of the Lord go forth two and two, taking the 
road in all humihty and modesty and especially keeping 
silence from the dawn until the hour of terce; pray to the 
Lord in your hearts and let no idle or useless word be spoken 
amongst you. For though you be walking abroad, neverthe- 
less let your conduct be as humble and becoming as in a her- 
mitage or cell. Indeed wherever we are or wherever we 
travel, we have always our cell with us. Brother Body is 
oar cell and the soul is the hermit who dwells within to pray 
and meditate upon the Lord. Of little use is a cell made 
with hands if the soul is not at rest in its own cell." ' With 
these words he sped them on their journey. 

These first missions beyond the Alps were, like all the 
early Franciscan missions, ventures of knightly faith and 
fealty, conceived in the purest spirit of chivalric loyalty and 
honour. The brethren were sent forth to bear witness to the 
faith that was in them ; their love of Christ and Poverty was 
to be their sustaining motive ; patience and endurance their 
glory. Theirs was a knightly adventure simply, and no 
affair of statecraft or cunning policy. The spirit in which the 
mission was undertaken, is happily set forth in a prose-poem 
which tells of an incident on the way. Francis, it says, when 
setting out on his journey to France, wished first to pay a 
visit to the tombs of the Apostles to commend this new ad- 
venture to their protection. He took with him on this pil- 
grimage, Brother Masseo. On the way they came to a small 
town and, being hungry, went into the town to beg a meal ; 
Francis taking one street and Masseo another. " Masseo 
being tall and comely in person, had good pieces of bread 
given him, large and many, and even entire loaves " ; but 
Francis, "because he was a man of mean appearance and 

' Spec. Perfect, cap. G5. 


small of stature and accounted a vile beggar by those who 
knew him not, received nothing but a few mouthfuls and 
crumbs of dry bread". "When they had begged enough, 
they went together to a place outside the town, where there 
was a fair fountain that they might eat ; and beside which 
was also a broad and convenient stone, on which each placed 
all the alms which he had begged. 

"Francis, seeing that the pieces of bread which Brother 
Masseo had were larger and better than his own, had great 
joy and spoke thus : ' Brother Masseo, we are not worthy 
of so great a treasure'. And as he repeated these words 
several times, Brother Masseo answered him : ' Father, how 
can this be called treasure, when we are in such poverty and 
lack the things of which we have need, we who have neither 
cloth nor knives nor plates nor porringer nor house nor table 
nor man servant nor maid servant '. Then said St. Francis : 
' And this is what I call a great treasure, that there is nothing 
here provided by human industry, but everything is provided 
by Divine Providence, as we may see manifestly in this bread 
which we have begged, in this stone which serves so beauti- 
fully for our table, and in this so clear fountain ; and there- 
fore I desire that we should pray to God, that he would cause 
holy Poverty which is a thing so noble that God Himself 
was made subject to it, to be loved by ue with our whole 
heart '. And when he had said these words and they had 
made their prayer and partaken for bodily refreshment of the 
pieces of bread and drunk of the water, they arose and went 
their way." This intimate communion with his Lady 
Poverty had set the heart of Francis in a spiritual rapture. 
After a time they came to a church. " Francis said to his 
companion : ' Let us go into this church and pray '. And 
entering, St. Francis placed himself behind the altar and 


betook himself to prayer. And as he prayed he received 
from the Divine visitation such excessive fervour, which so 
vehemently inflamed his soul with the love of holy Poverty, 
that by the increased colour of his face and the unaccustomed 
opening of his lips it seemed as though he were breathing out 
flames of love. And coming thus all inflamed, to his com- 
panion, he said to him : ' Ah ! Ah ! Ah ! Brother Masseo, 
yield thyself to me'. And he said this three times, and the 
third time he lifted Brother Masseo by his breath into the air 
and threw him from him, to the distance of a long spear : 
which put Brother Masseo in great astonishment. Now 
afterwards, relating the matter to his companions. Brother 
Masseo said that during the time he was raised up and thrown 
forth by the breath which proceeded from St. Erancis, he 
tasted such sweetness in his soul, and such consolation of 
the Holy Spirit, that in all his life he had never felt the 

"And this done, St. Francis said to him : ' My Brother, 
let us go to St. Peter and St. Paul and pray them to teach 
us, and to give us to possess the immeasurable treasure of 
holy Poverty, inasmuch as it is a treasure so exalted, and so 
divine, that we are not worthy to possess it in our vile bodies, 
seeing that this is that celestial virtue by which all earthly 
and transitory thmgs are trodden under foot and all impedi- 
ments are lifted away from the soul, so that she can freely 
unite herself to the Eternal God. And this is the virtue 
which makes the soul, while still retained on earth, converse 
with the angels in heaven, and this it is which accompanied 
Christ to His Cross, with Christ was buried, with Christ was 
raised up, with Christ ascended into heaven, which, being 
given in this Hfe to the souls who are enamoured of it, facili- 
tates their flight to heaven, seeing that it guards the arms of 


true humility and charity. And therefore let us pray the 
most holy Apostles of Christ, who were perfect lovers of this 
pearl of the Gospel of Christ, that they will beg for us this 
grace from our Lord Jesus Christ, that by His most holy 
mercy, He would grant us to be true lovers, observers and 
humble disciples of this most gracious, most lovable, evan- 
gelical Poverty.' " ^ 

Did the sending forth of the brethren into foreign lands 
produce no other result than this praise of Poverty, the ad- 
venture would be memorable : for, as in a lightning-flash, it 
reveals the mystery of that loyal worship which Francis kept 
for his ideal Lady Poverty. 

^Fioietti, cap. 12 (C. T. S. transl.) ; Actits, cap. 13; Chron. xxiv. Gen. 
Anal. Franc, torn. in. 117; Dc Conformit., Anal. Franc, torn. iv. p. 603. 
An interesting comparison may be made between the praises of Poverty here 
set forth and the prayer to obtain Holy Poverty attributed by Wadding and 
others to St. Francis, but which is found for the first time in the Arbor 
]'it:-B of Ubertino da Casale. Mr. Montgomery Carmichael says of this 
prayer: "though he (Ubertino) puts this prayer into the mouth of St. 
Francis, the context points to the fact that he is rather attempting to repro- 
duce the sentiments of the Saint, than giving a prayer literally written by 
liim " (vide The Lady Poverty, p. 193). A similar sentiment is found in 
the Sacrum Contmercium, cap. vi. ; and finds an echo in Dante's Paradiso, 
canto XI. lines 71, 72. It is not at all improbable that Francis went to Rome 
before setting out for France. He seems to have gone to Rome whenever he 
undertooli any scheme of importance. Thus according to Wadding he went 
to Rome in 1212 before undertaliing the mission to tlie infidels ; and he was 
certainly in Rome several times during the period we are now entering upon. 
a. II Cclano 96, 104, 119, 148; Spec. Perfect, cap. 67. Nor is it unlilsely 
that whilst in Rome, Francis was told to consult Card. Ugoliuo at Florence, 
since Ugolino, as legate in Umbria, would be the necessary representative of 
the Ho'y ^ ee in those parts. It was probably thus in his capacity as legate 
that Card. Ugolino came first to act as "protector" of the Order, until the 
inconvenience of having " many popes ' in the persons of succeeding legates, 
ledFiancis to request that Ugoliuo should be permanent protector (of. Chron. 
Jordani, in Anal. Franc, no. 14, p. 5). 


Francis, when at length he turned his face towards the 
north, came to Florence : and here ended this journey so far 
as he himself was concerned. For at Florence he met 
Cardinal Ugolino, the Papal Legate : and that meeting was 
the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the frater- 

Ugolino, Cardinal Bishop of Ostia and Legate of the 
Holy See for central and northern Italy, was one of 
Innocent the Third's cardinals, and on his father's side was 
related to the great Pope.^ At this time he was about sixty 
years of age ; a handsome man, well built and of strong con- 
stitution : a man of ability rather than of genius ; not gifted 
with any striking originality of character nor with the soaring 
inspiration so notable in Pope Innocent ; but he was yet 
a master of statecraft and a forceful man of affairs such as 
the Court of Eome has in all times so commonly produced. 
He had a marvellous memory and a clear insight into the 
bearings of things with which he had to deal. Moreover he 
was a scholar, well versed in law and the liberal arts and m 
theology, and a fluent and eloquent speaker.^ 

Innocent III had done well to bring his relative into his 
intimate counsels when he was seeking for men who would 
be devoted to the Church's welfare rather than to their own 

'Two "lives" of Ugolino are given in Muratori, Rerum Italicaruvi 
Script, torn. ni. pp. 570-4, and 575-87. The second "life" is evidently 
by one who knew him well, probably a member of his court. The frank ad- 
miration of the writer for his subject is united with an intimate knowledge 
of details such as one can get only in constant companionship. Not unlikely 
he was Giovanni di Campania, the Papal notary. 

'■'Of. Muratori, loo. cit. p, 575 : " Forma decorus ct venudus aspedu, per- 
spicacis ingenii et fidelis memoricB prcerogatira dotatus, Uberalium et ittriusque 
juris peritia emineriter instrw.tus, fluvius eloquentice TuUiancB, sacrce pagincB 
diligens observatoi- el doctor " 


interest, men who in wielding and holding power, secular as 
well as spiritual, would set an example of personal piety and 
self-sacrifice. For Cardinal Ugolino was devoted heart and 
mind to the Church, and like the great Pontiff, he dreamed 
of a Church not only strong in secular dominion to rule an 
unruly world, but purified of secular abuses and of wrong- 
doing, and transfused with the spirit of the Gospel. He 
himself was ascetic in the midst of the pomp and ceremonial 
of his official state ; and no charge was ever made against 
the purity and disinterestedness of his personal life. There 
was a curious commingling of opposing elements in his char- 
acter. Had his education and circumstances been different 
he might have found greater satisfaction in the cloister 
than in the court. There were stirrings of the mystic 
in him at times, which conflicted with the promptings 
of that prudence he had learned in the management of 
men. At such times he would look with desire upon the life 
which took no heed of the world's actuality but was enrap- 
tured into the unearthly claims of the spirit.' This strain of 
mysticism drew him into close sympathy with the peniten- 
tial movement. 

Moreover the cardinal with all his calm political insight 
and habit of weighing affairs in the scales of common pru- 
dence, was yet of an emotional temperament.- He was af- 
fectionate in disposition and could not resist an appeal to his 
friendship. He loved to fill the part of a protector and clung 
tenaciously to those to whom he gave his heart. 

1 C£. I Celano, 75 ; II Celano, 63. Bartholomew of Pisa relates that the 
Cardinal once asked Francis' advice as to whether he should renounce his 
dignities and become a Friar Minor ; but the saint refused to advise him one 
way or the other. Afterwards Francis foretold Ugolino's elevation to the 
Papal chair (Conformit. in Anal. Franc, iv. p. 454). 

2 Vide, e.g. his letters to St. Glare, Anal. Franc, iii. p. 183. 


Before his meeting with Francis at Florence, he had al- 
ready come to regard him and his fraternity with admiration 
and was amongst those who held it in favour at the Eoman 
Court. He knew well that there were those about the Court 
and in the hierarchy who were opposed to the new institute ; ^ 
and not unlikely the thought had already occurred to him 
that if the fraternity was to come safely through the shoals 
of intrigue and the dangers of its own simple enthusiasm, it 
would need a friend at Court : for the Cardinal of St. Paul, 
the powerful patron of the brethren, was no longer there to 
defend and counsel them : he had died the year previous." 
On his part, Francis knew the Cardinal by reputation and 
regarded him with reverence not only for his priestly office 
but because of his blameless life. 

But now when they met for the first time in familiar con- 
verse, they conceived for each other a strong affection. 
Francis' confiding nature drew him to the strong man who 
was so ready to befriend the brethren and who was at once 
so gracious and sympathetic ; and the Cardinal was com- 
pletely won by the simplicity and unworldliness of Francis : 
and so between these two men, so widely dissimilar in many 
respects, there sprang up an intimate friendship. The Car- 
dinal's persuasive influence was at once shown in that he 
was able to dissuade Francis from continuing his journey to 
France : though not without need of argument. "When first 
the Cardinal remonstrated that Francis ought to remain in 
Italy in consideration of the fact that many prelates sought 
to hinder the work of the fraternity, Francis replied in his 
vehement way : " My lord, much shame will it be to me if, 
having sent others of my brethren into far countries, I myself 

' I Gelano, 7i ; Chron. xxiv. Gen. in Anal. Franc, iii. p. 10. 
2 Eubel, Hier. Cath. i. p. 36. 


remain in these parts and do not share in the hardships and 
troubles which await them ". To which Cardinal Ugolino 
answered that none of the brethren ought to be sent into dis- 
tant countries to die, maybe, of hunger and suffering, and that 
they would do better to remain in Italy and peacefully pur- 
sue their vocation there. Francis cried out warmly : " Think 
you, my lord, that it is only to these proyinces that the Lord 
hath sent the brethren ? Of a truth I tell you that God hath 
chosen and sent the brethren for the profit and salvation of 
the souls of all the men that are in the world ; and not only 
in the countries of the faithful but even in the lands of the 
infidels shall they be received and win many souls." The 
Cardinal thereupon made no further effort to restrain the 
missionary enterprise of the brethren at large ; perhaps he 
now recognized that it were wise not to hold back the 
brethren nor to repress their energies ; yet he prevailed upon 
Francis himself to turn back and to send the brethren to 
France under another leader. 

Thus it came about that Brother Pacifico, the poet laure- 
ate, was appointed to establish the fraternity in the land that 
Francis loved, next to his own Umbria, above all countries in 
the world. ^ 

Like Francis himself, Pacifico had the true troubadour 
spirit, at once poetic and adventurous. When Francis had 
first met him some five years previously, he was a gay courtier, 
wearing his fresh laurels. They had both come on a visit to 
a convent of nuns at San Severino in the Marches of Ancona, 
where the poet heard the friar preach and was at once con- 
verted in heart. After the sermon he sought out the preacher 
to ask advice concerning his soul. Francis was settiu'^ before 

^Spec. Perfect, cap. 65; Leg. Maj. iv. 9; Chron. sxiv. Gen. in Anal. 
Franc in. p. 10. 

him the greater nobihty of service in the court of the Great 
King of heaven, when Pacifico exclaimed: "What need of 
further argument ? Let us come to deeds. Take me away 
from men and give me back to the Most High Emperor." 
And there in the presence of the crowd of youths who had 
come with him, Pacifico became a friar. 

To him his spiritual guide was always "the herald" of 
the Lord of heaven, and his imagination was apt to see him 
invested with the insignia of his spiritual heraldry. 

Once — that was on the occasion of his conversion — he 
saw Francis bedecked with two flaming swords crosswise ; 
another time, before this journey to France, when Francis 
was newly kindled with the thought of his spiritual crusade, 
he saw the forehead of his leader, adorned with the sign Thau 
emblazoned in many colours.^ 

He might not, perhaps, be the man to establish the brethren 
in the estimation of matter-of-fact prelates and suspicious 
defenders of the faith : and in this respect he does not seem 
to have been successful. But to those who had ears for his 
song, he could sing the message of Poverty convincingly and 

Francis returned to Assisi : God willed it so and he must 
obey : for already he was convinced that Cardmal Ugolino 
was set by Providence to be his counsellor and support : and, 
therefore, before he bade the Cardinal farewell, he had peti- 
tioned him to preside at the next General Chapter. 

Of the experiences of the brethren who went beyond the 
Alps at this time, the story has been summed up in this 
passage from the Legend of the Three Companions : " They 
were received in certain provinces but were not permitted to 
build dwelling-places ; and from other provinces they were 

1 II Celano, 106 ; Celano, Tract, de Mirac. 3 ; Leg. MaJ. iv. 9. 


expelled in the fear that they might prove to be infidels: 
since although the lord Innocent III had sanctioned their 
Order and Rule, yet had he not confirmed it by letter ; for 
which reason the brethren endured many trials from clerics 
and laymen. Wherefore the brethren were compelled to flee 
from divers provinces, and thus straitened and afflicted, 
sometimes even robbed and beaten by thieves, they returned 
in great bitterness of spirit to the Blessed Francis." ^ 

Other chroniclers give more exphcit details. In France 
they were taken for heretics and when asked whether they 
were Albigenses, not knowing what the word might mean, 
they neither affirmed nor denied, and so the people were 
confirmed in their suspicion. A similar fate awaited the 
brethren who were sent to Portugal, and for a time they had 
perforce to wander about like vagabonds without a dwelling- 
place, until Urracha, Queen of Alfonso II, took them under 
her protection. They fared even worse in Germany, where 
the language was altogether unintelligible to them. One 
word only they secured out of the torrent of strange sounds 
they heard ; which word at first brought them comfort. 
For seeing them poor and weary, some kindly soul asked if 
they wanted shelter, to which the brothers, not understand- 
ing the question but glad of fellowship, rephed " Ja : " and 
shelter was given them. But when later, others came inquir- 
ing whether they were heretics from Lombardy, the brethren 
again replied " Ja" : and then the trouble began. They 
were stripped and beaten and driven back towards the 
frontier. Those Germans were good Catholics : but the 
brethren understood only their blows and fury, and fled back 
to Assisi carrying with them a fast opinion that no Christian 
should venture amongst the Germans unless he were pre- 

1 3 Soo. 62. 


pared for martyrdom. So, too, in Hungary they were taken 
for heretics and mummers, and made the sport of the country 
they passed through and even treated with the grossest in- 
sult. Only in Spain do they seem to have met with a kindly 
reception : a fact which might be accounted for if, as tradi- 
tion has it, this mission was led by Bernard da Quintavalle 
who had already visited the country. ^ "And so," says one, 
" that entire mission came to nothing, because perhaps the 
time for sending forth was not yet come : since there is a 
time for everything under the sun." ^ But this philosopher 
was thinking chiefly of his own province of Germany, where 
the brethren gained nothing but the merit of such hardship 
and patience as was theirs. In France and Portugal, though 
they suffered much, the brethren arrived to stay : as also in 
Spain. But it was the last adventure of unaided faith so far 
as the fraternity in general were concerned. 

The brethren were beginning to learn that they who would 
gain the world, must take account of the world's demands. 
Two causes contributed to the failures : the inability of the 
brethren to speak the tongue of the people they went to, and 
their lack of knowledge of the conditions prevailing outside 
Italy. But even more than this the failures must be attri- 
buted to the fact that they carried with them no authorizing 
document from bishops or Pope ; and that, at a time when 
the profession of poverty was mostly the mark of a heretic, 
brought them at once under suspicion. 

There can be no denying it : the faith of the fraternity 
was bruised in this first encounter with the larger world. 
The latent disaffection of some of the brethren with the 

1 Cf. Chron. Jordani in Anal. Franc, i. nos. 4, 5, C, p. 3 ; Chron. xxiv. Gen. 
in Anal. Franc, iii. p. 10 sej. ; Glassberger in Anal. Franc, u. p. U sej. 
' Chron. Jordani, loo. oit. no. 8, p. 3. 



simplicity of Francis, now found utterance, and a sense of 
failure saddened the loynlty of many. 

Already some were looking to the Cardinal Legate to 
supply Francis' lack of the world's prudence, and they did 
nut fail to set before him the story of this disaster. Francis 
took it all very humbly. He would have been more glad at 
heart had ihe brethren taken their failure in simple faith and 
patience and without discouragement. But Cardinal Ugo- 
lioo had now taken the fraternity under his protection and, 
seeing in him the authority of the Church, Francis loyally 
submitted the fraternity to his direction. 

Before the brethren were sent abroad again, they were 
armed with commendatory letters from the Holy See. 



The two years following upon the General Chapter of 1217 
were a period of intense missionary activity for the brother- 
hood, as the vast increase in the numbers of the brethren 
testifies : for at the Chapter of 1219 about five thousand 
brethren were there assembled.' Yet few incidents of the 
period are recorded. It was one of those brooding periods 
when the earth is windless and the sky unbroken, though 
in the hidden spaces the elements of disturbance are gather- 
ing force, sooner or later to burst through the still but heat- 
gathering heavens with undeniable storm. 

A new era had in fact begun in the history of the fra- 
ternity. The brethren were no longer regarded by the Holy 
See as a free company, acting under the Papal authority but 
not recognized as part of its regular army. 

Already Cardinal Ugolino, surveying the ecclesiastical 
situation with the eye of an organizer, had determined in his 
own mind that the right policy was to create a new ecclesi- 
astical army out of the two fraternities of Friars Minor and 
Friars Preachers which would be directly under the orders of 
the Holy See. With such a body of men ready to its hand, 

' Of. Leg. Maj. iv. 10 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 68 ; Eocleston [ed. Little], coll. 
vi. p. 40 ; Actus, cap. 20. 

259 17 * 


the Papacy might effectively carry out its scheme of internal 
reforms in the hierarchy and in the Church at large. 

The Cardinal had quite definite views as to the shape 
these reforms must take, and how these new fraternities 
might be utilized for the purpose. The Church needed 
bishops of unworldly mind and ascetic conduct, who would 
think more of the souls of the people than of temporalities 
and secular honours. The monastic state needed to be re- 
called to its former austerity and discipline. The intellect of 
the Catholic world was being dissipated in purely secular 
studies, and there was need of preachers who could meet the 
heretics, armed at once with a blameless life and theological 
learning. In the two new Orders of friars Ugolino saw the 
providential means of carrying through these most urgent 
reforms. In his mind's-eye he beheld the friars occupying epis- 
copal sees, setting the older Orders an example of monastic 
austerity combined with active work for the faith, and reviv- 
ing the study of theology. Perhaps at this time he looked 
more to the Dominicans for the revival of sacred learning. For 
Dominic had made study one of the primary conditions of his 
new Order. One of his first acts in founding the Friars 
Preachers had been to send six of his companions to the schools 
to go through a course of study to fit them for preaching. 
He himself during the Lent of 1217 had gained the ap- 
plause of the Koman Court by his conferences upon the 
epistles of St. Paul. Yet amongst the Friars Minor were a 
number of schoolmen. The Cardmal would take that into 
account in his views concerning the utility of the fraternity. 

He had already pleaded with the two founders to allow 
their brethren to be raised to the episcopal dignity as occasion 
offered itself when sees were vacant. " In the primitive 
Church," argued Ugohno, "the pastors of the Church were 


poor men, and men on fire with charity and not with greed. 
AVhy should we not take some of your brethren and make 
them bishops and prelates?" Dominic had replied: "My 
lord, my brethren, if they know it, are already raised to an 
honourable estate ; nor if I can help it, will I permit them to 
accept other title of dignity ". And Francis had said : " My 
brethren are for this reason called minors that they should 
not presume to become the greater amongst their fellow- 
men. Our vocation teaches them to abide in the common 
way and to follow in the footsteps of Christ's humility, 
■ft hereby in the end they will be exalted beyond others in the 
eyes of the saints. If you wish that they bear fruit in the 
Church of God, hold them and keep them in the state of 
their vocation, and make even the unwilling to return to the 
humble level. Wherefore, Father, I pray that you will on 
no account allow them to be raised to prelacies, lest they 
become the prouder because they are poorer and carry them- 
selves conceitedly over others."' The Cardinal admired the 
humility of the two founders : in that same spirit he would 
wish all their brethren to remain : but he did not share their 
fears nor did he admit the validity of their more restricted 
views — restricted, as he thought, by their own admirable 
humility and by the very intensity of their mental concentra- 
tion upon the primary purposes of their institutes. It was, you 
see, the demand of the world for a practical utility corre- 
sponding to its own immediate needs, meeting with an in- 
spired purpose, at once more universal and exclusive, more 
piercingly poignant yet more aloof, than transient policies. 
Cardinal Ugolino's scheme was to harness these inspired 
purposes to the chariot of the Papal policy of reform; and 
when the Cardinal set his mind upon any scheme he clung 

1 II Celano, 148 ; S^jec. Perfect, cap. 43. 


to it with confident persistence. And in this case he felt 
himself justified in over-riding the scruples of the founders 
not only because of the sincerity of his own reforming pro- 
jects, but because he was persuaded that only by adapting 
themselves to the immediate exigencies of the Papal policy, 
would the fraternities overcome the suspicion and active 
opposition with which they were regarded by many of the 
conservative prelates. He was much concerned lest this 
opposition should eventually break up the fraternities, and he 
exerted himself continually to establish them in the favour of 
the Pope and the goodwill of the Roman Court. Dominic 
needed his protection less than Francis did. The character 
and purpose of the Friars Preachers was more easily grasped 
than that of the Friars Minor : their direct purpose was to 
repel the heretics and safeguard the faith. But the purpose 
of Francis was not so easily put into an intelligible phrase. 
He was a forceful moving spirit grasping at intangible ideals, 
who repelled more prudent, level-headed men when they 
considered him from afar : one never knew how he might 
end or how far he might want to go. Ugolino himself had 
absolutely no doubt as to his sanity and sanctity : Francis, 
he was convinced, was a saint and heaven-sent reformer. 

To bring the sceptics to his own view he once arranged 
that Francis should preach before the Pope and the Papal 
Court. He was anxious Francis should make a good im- 
pression, and induced him therefore to prepare a sermon 
carefully beforehand and commit it to memory. Francis 
acquiesced : but when the time came to preach, every word 
that he had learned vanished from his mind : fortunately 
perhaps for the preacher and his audience ; for recollecting 
himself awhile, he then spoke as his heart impelled him. He 
was the troubadour herald of divine love, all afire with his 


message : the words poured forth mellifluously, yet with 
torrential eagerness ; his feet danced to the music of his 
words. At first Ugohno held his breath in a great fear and 
prayed with all his heart that this preaching might not bring 
derision and mockery on his friend. But soon his fear was 
set at rest. Curiosity gave place to respectful attention : 
many of those present could not restrain their tears. Francis 
had conquered. But one wonders what would have been the 
effect, had he managed to utter his carefully-prepared dis- 
course, he who was nothing but when he was wholly and 
spontaneously himself.^ 

Meanwhile the spirit of discontent was becoming more 
and more articulate in the fraternity, and not a few of the 
brethren, chiefly it would seem among the schoolmen, chafed 
under the simplicity of Francis and his exalted idealism. 
They had neither his simple faith nor his wholesome per- 
sonality. The untrodden ways along which he would lead 
them, brought them a sense of estrangement from the actual 
world, Francis himself never felt that estrangement because 
he instinctively found his neighbourhood with the essentially 
human and vital in the life around him. But these others 
had been trained to regard life only as it existed in con- 
ventional and traditional forms. Outside these forms they 
could walk only haltingly and without conviction. 

Their failure to enter fully into Francis' views was due 
partly to temperament, partly to education, partly doubtless 
to the persistent obtrusion of a more matter-of-fact world 

1 Leg. Maj. xii. 7 ; I Celano, 73. Wadding is probably near the correct 
date in placing this sermon in 1217. From the wording of Celano it is clear 
that Francis was not yet very well known to Pope Honorius and his Court ; 
nor does he seem to have been very well known to Cardinal Ugolino, who 
surely in after years would hardly have asked his friend to write his sermon I 


upon their daily experience. In a more or less vague per- 
vasive fashion they had been genuinely influenced by the 
spirit of Francis : as men are apt to be influenced by a force- 
ful personality in a time of keen perceptions and emotions. 
He had come into their lives like a fresh tonic breeze ; stir- 
ring their spiritual emotions, and giving them a sense of 
spiritual freedom, upon the strength of which they abandoned 
their secular avocations and enlisted under his banner. But 
of the multitude who donned his armour not all could take to 
themselves his thought or live freely in the rare atmosphere of 
his desire. Instinctively they turned to the traditional and im- 
mediately-practical ways in which to exercise the heightened 
spiritual vitality with which Francis had endowed them. 
They were unconscious that in doing so they would divert 
the stream of the Franciscan hfe from its own proper course 
and scatter its energies to its own loss. Francis' simple 
purpose was to convert the world to the wisdom and beauty 
of the Christ-life as it is revealed in the poor and suffering 
Eedeemer. And he held that the fraternity was established 
by Christ to set an example of this Christ-life, undefiled by 
any compromise with secular ambition and prudence : it 
had no other aim or duty, no other rightful joy. The dis- 
contented spirits amongst the brethren did not deny this 
purpose, but they quarrelled with Francis' teaching concerning 
no compromise with the world's prudence. At least, they 
held, he should accept the world's prudence in so far as other 
religious men accepted it. 

Francis had no condemnation for other religious men : 
the prudence of the world is good in its own place ; and 
these other religious men were the keepers of their own con- 
science : God did not lead all men in the same way. But 
the way of the Friars Minor was to live and work as Jesus 


Christ Himself lived and worked on earth, in humility and 
meekness and poverty, using only spiritual means and not 
relying upon any secular influence. If the brethren would 
convert men they must be wilhng to suffer and not shield 
themselves with letters of protection ; they must be exiles 
upon the earth without any earthly possessions ; they must be 
in fact and in appearance as the least of men and not occupy 
exalted positions; they must preach the Gospel in its simpli- 
city and not with a proud assumption of secular learning. 

It was perhaps at this period when the murmurs of the 
discontented brethren were beginning to trouble his thoughts, 
that Francis uttered his " parable of perfect joy ". Tradition 
says he was on his way from Perugia to the Porziuncola 
one day in the winter time when the cold was very biting. 
Brother Leo, his companion — ^one who never doubted the 
wisdom of his leader — was walking ahead, leaving Francis to 
his meditation, when he heard the voice of Francis calling to 
him: " Brother Leo, although the Friars Minor in these 
parts give a great example of sanctity and good edification, 
write it down and note it well that this is not perfect joy ". 
And as they continued their journey, Francis called to Leo 
again and yet again, instancing the gift of miracles, the 
knowledge of all languages and sciences, and of holy Scrip 
ture, and even the power of preaching whereby all infidek 
might be converted to the faith of Christ : in all these things 
he declared there was not perfect joy. At length Brother 
Leo asked : "Father,! pray thee, wherein is perfect joy?" 
Francis replied : " When we shall have come to St. Mary of 
the Angels, soaked as we are with the rain and frozen with 
the cold, encrusted with mud and afflicted with hunger, and 
shall knock at the door, if the porter should come and ask, 
angrily, ' Who are you ? ' and we reply : ' We are two of your 


brethren ' ; he should say : ' You speak falsely ; you are two 
good-for-nothings, who go about the world stealing alms from 
the poor ; go your way ' : and if he would not open the door 
to us but left us without, exposed till night to the snow and 
the wind and the torrents of rain, in cold and hunger ; then 
if we should bear so much abase and cruelty and such a dis- 
missal patiently, without disturbance and without murmur- 
ing at him, and should think humbly and charitably that 
this porter knew us truly and that God would have him 
speak against us — Brother Leo, write that this would be 
perfect joy." In this strain Francis continued recounting 
possible humiliations and buffetings of body and mind. "If 
we should bear all these things," said he, " patiently and 
with joy, thinking on the pains of the Blessed Christ, as that 
which we ought to bear for His love — Brother Leo, write 
that it is in this that there is perfect joy." ^ 

The discontented brethren no doubt listened with respect 
to this parable when it was afterwards recounted to them, 
but whilst admitting the ultimate conclusion as a counsel of 
personal perfection, they would yet hold to the lesser joys as 
the more immediate evidences of the fraternity's utility. 

They were doubtful whether the simplicity of the brethren 
did tend to the edification of the people, at least as much as 
the more ordered austerity of the ancient monastic rale ; 
they were certain that Francis under-rated the joy of learn- 
ing ; and they would give much to be able to say that all the 

^Fioretti, cap. vii. (O.T.B. transl.) ; Actus, cap. 7 ; cf. Opuscula, Admonit. 
V. p. 8. The Fioretti gives us the parable as enshrined in oral tradition, and 
as it was retold by the brethren with a view to accentuate the ultimate 
conclusion. But it is substantially contained in the Admonition. It is note- 
worthy that in the Fioretti Leo is bidden to " write it down ". The Admoni- 
tion, therefore, may be Leo's written r^sum^ ot the parable; or it maybe 
another recital of the same thought, dictated by Francis himself. 


infidels were converted to the faith of Christ. And whilst 
Francis was praising his Lady Poverty for the life itself 
which he found in her, for the nearer approach which she 
made for him to the Lord he worshipped ; these others held 
her as a handmaiden to serve them in achieving less mystical 
purposes. So the storm elements were gathered when the 
brethren came together at the Pentecost Chapter, which was 
afterwards known as " the Chapter of Mats," because of the 
vast number of wattle huts hastily improvised by the arriving 
brethren.^ At the outset an incident happened which was 
in some way to set the note to the temper of this assembly. 
Erancis had been on an evangelizing tour and only reached 
the Porziuncola when the preparations for the Chapter were 
already well advanced. To his dismay he found a large 
stone building erected near the chapel. The citizens of 
Assisi had built it for the better accommodation of the 
Chapter. They had not waited to consult Erancis ; probably 
they meant to forestall his opposition : saints, like other folk, 
need at times to be managed tactfully. So they built the hall 
and awaited events. Quick was Francis' resentment at this 
indignity offered to the Lady Poverty in her own home. 
Without delay he took with him some of the brethren, and 
climbed upon the roof and began to pull it down. Word was 
sent hastily to the civic authorities, and messengers and 
soldiers arrived to stop the demolition. " This building," they 
cried to Erancis, " is not yours ; it belongs to the city." And 

' Wadding is probably right in describing the Chapter of 1219 as the 
" Chapter of Mats " ; although John de Komorowo gives this title to the 
Chapter of 1221 (cf. Anal. Franc, ii. p. 18, n. 8). But the Spec. Perfect, dis- 
tinctly says that Cardinal Ugolino presided at the " Chapter of Mats,'' whereas 
Cardinal Raiuerio presided at the Chapter of 1221 (of. Chron. Jordant, in Anal. 
Franc, i. no. 16, p. 6). Giordano's description of the wattle-huts in 1221 is 
true of all the earliest Chapters. 


their protest was upheld by the seneschal of the Chapter, an 
English brother named de Barton. Francis from the roof re- 
plied : " If so be this house is yours, I have no wish to touch 
it"; and straightway he came down.' What else could he 
do? Yet in his heart theie was a foreboding of the trouble 
at hand : if at the Porziuncola the brethren would toler- 
ate this appearance of disloyalty to their chosen poverty, 
how could the brethren elsewhere be kept true to their 
faith ? 

On Whitsunday morning Cardinal Ugolino, who was to 
preside at the Chapter, arrived from Perugia where he then 
had his court : with him came a retinue of nobles and 
clerics ; and from all the surrounding country men of all 
ranks had assembled to witness this unusual gathering. 

When the cardinal's approach was announced, the 
brethren went out in procession to meet him. At the sight 
of them in their coarse habits and bare feet, Ugolino was 
much moved ; here was an army of Christ such as he had 
prayed for in his dreams of reform, and with the instinct of 
the born commander, he dismounted from his horse, put off 
his rich mantle and shoes, and barefoot like the brethren 
themselves, walked behind them to the church.- There he 
sang High Mass, Francis assisting as deacon. When Mass 
was over, Francis mounted a pulpit and preached to the 
brethren. His text was a minstrel's chant : — 

^ Spec. Perfect, cap. 7; II Celano, 57; Eocleston [ed. Little], coll. vi, 
p. 40. 

■■'3 Soc. Gl. Of. I Celano, 100. Bartholomew of Pisa {Cor.formit. in 
Anal. Franc, iv. p. 454) says Ugolino often put on the habit of the friars when 
in their company ; and that he was accustomed on Maundy Thursday to be 
clothed in the habit when washing the feet of the poor. Cf. Salimbene, 
Hon. Germ. Hist. Script., xxxii. p. 6S0; Chron. xxiv. Gen., A^ial. Fianc. 
III. p. 228. 


Great things we have promised, 

But greater are promised to us ; 

What we have promised let us fulfil, 

To what we are promised let us look forward. 

A brief delight and punishment for ever ; 

A little suffering and glory infinite ! 

Upon this theme he figured the Hfe of a Eriar Minor — a 
life of obedience and love, of prayer and patience and chastity, 
of peace and concord with God and men, of humility and 
meekness, unworldliness and poverty, and as the sum of all, 
the casting of all care for oneself upon " the good Shepherd 
and Nurse of soul and body, our Lord Jesus Christ the 
Blessed ". The same lesson he had preached in the beginning 
when the brethren were but three or four in number. To 
some it had seemed a mad idea then that men should have no 
care for their own bodily being and leave it all to God. To-day 
the world did not call Erancis mad : he was too manifestly a 
saint. Yet some of them doubted his wisdom when, point- 
ing the moral to his lesson, he commanded the five thousand 
friars present to give no thought during the Chapter to 
the providing of food or to any other bodily need, but to con- 
cern themselves wholly with prayer and the praises of God. 
In the event, Erancis' faith was abundantly justified, for 
whilst the Chapter lasted, the roads leading to the Porziun- 
cola were kept busy with mules and asses laden with pro- 
visions for the multitude of friars. ^ But this miracle, as they 

^ Actus, cap. 20; Fioretti, cap. xvii. The story as told in the Actus goes 
on to relate how St. Dominic was won over to absolute poverty by seeing how 
St. Francis' faith was fulfilled. But Dominic was in Spain at the time of the 
Chapter (of. Acta SS. Augusti, torn. i. pp. 485-6). It is not improbable that 
he may have been present at another Chapter where similar events occurred : 
for the first Chapters present many common features. It is, however, note- 
worthy that Dominic introduced the rule of absolute poverty into his Order 
in 1220, influenced most probably by the example of the Friars Minor. 


would deem it, might bear witness to the holiness of Francis; 
yet it could hardly establish a rule for general imitation. 
Evidently the fraternity needed more practical government : 
at least that was the mind of many present; and these 
appealed to the Cardinal for support for their views. Francis 
replied in an outburst of indignant sorrow: " My brethren, 
my brethren ! The Lord has called me by the way of sim- 
plicity and humility, and this way hath He pointed out to me 
in truth for myself and for them who are willing to believe 
me and imitate me. Wherefore I will not that you name 
to me any other Rule, neither of St. Benedict nor of St. 
Augustine, nor of St. Bernard, nor any other way or manner 
of living beside that Avhich the Lord in His mercy hath 
shown and given me. The Lord told me that He willed me 
to be poor and foolish in this world, and that He willed not 
to lead us by any way other than by that knowledge. But 
with this learning and wisdom of yours, may the Lord con- 
found you, and I trust in the castellans of the Lord that 
through them God will punish you, and that you will return 
to your vocation for all your fault-finding, whether you will 
or no." ^ 

For the moment the dissident brethren were silenced ; 
but they were not convinced. Their immediate outlook con- 
cerning the fraternity was radically different from their foun- 
der's ; and it was not in Francis to argue the point logically. 

1 Spec. Perfect, cap. 68 ; the reading of the Vatican MS., which I have 
followed, is more in accordance with Bartholomew of Pisa {Coiifiyrmit. in^»aZ. 
Franc, iv. p. 143) than that of the Mazariu MS., which makes Francis say; 
" He [the Lord] ■willed me to be a new Covenant in this world ". 

This outburst of Francis is fully in accord with his character (cf. e.g. 
II Celano, 156). Moreover one may note the similarity between the con- 
clusion of this admonition and Francis' words to the Cardinal given in II 
Celano, 148 : " Tencto illos . . . et ad 2}lana reducite vel invitos ". 


He was a poet bearing witness to the vision he saw : he was 
neither logician nor poHtician to deal with the arguments of 
those who were against him. His critics might bow for 
awhile before the fervour and sincerity of his pleading. 
Many of the brethren probably imagined that the trouble 
was finished, but Cardinal Ugolino, with his knowledge of 
men, would be thoughtful of the morrow, and doubtless was 
thankful in his mind that Providence had made him the 
friend of Francis and the brethren for the difficult future 
which lay before them. 

It were easy, and as foolish as it were easy, to brand the 
dissident brethren as weaklings in their vocation or as trai- 
tors to Francis. That some of them merited to be thus 
branded is doubtless true. But for the most part they sincerely 
reverenced Francis and were proud to own him their leader. 
They felt the stirring of his spirit and gladly responded to it, 
as far as it was in them to respond. With these the trouble 
was not of their own making : it was the perennial diiiiculty 
found by a multitude in accepting as a guide in life, an ideal 
which demands a clear, spiritual insight and a more than 
common aloofness from the set ways of the world. In such 
case men suffer because of a lack of the rare simplicity re- 
quired for the perfect understanding and realization of the 
ideal life proposed to them. They are pulled by two loyalties 
and are apt to cut an unheroic figure in consequence. And 
yet were it not for such men the world would be much the 
poorer morally and spiritually. They retail the spiritual life 
much as the ordinary intelligent student retails the message 
of a master, and it is through the more commonplace intelli- 
gence that the genius permeates the world. Only at times 
the student is apt to misread his text either in the letter 
or worse still in the spirit : yet for that reason one does 


not universally condemn the purpose of the student nor in- 
dict his sincerity. So much must be said for the dissident 
brethren, if we would rightly appreciate this trouble which 
had now come into Francis' life. 

But the Chapter came to some definite decisions in spite 
of the trouble which overclouded it. The established pro- 
vinces were confirmed and others instituted ; ' but chiefly it 
was determined to send missions to the infidels. One band 
of friars, including Brother Giles, ^ was set apart for Tunis ; 
another, under the leadership of Brother Vitale, for Morocco ; ^ 
whilst — and this perhaps was the surprise of the Chapter — 
Francis was to undertake a mission to the Mahometans in 

1 Thus Prance was divided into three provinces — the provinces of France 
proper, of Provence, and of Aquitaiue. John Bonelli "the cudgel of 
Florence," was appointed Minister of Provence; and Christopher of Eo- 
maudiola, Minister of Aquitaine. Cf. Golubovich, Arch. Franc. Hist. an. i. 
fasc. I. p. 4 ; vide supra, p. 246. 

- Chron. xxiv. Gen. in Anal. Franc, iii. p. 78. 

'Ibid. Vide infra, p. 263. Vitale fell ill in Spain and so did not 
reach Morocco ; so his companions went on without him under the leader- 
ship of Brother Berardo. 



To anyone who did not know Francis, his decision to under- 
take a mission to the infidels at this critical juncture would 
surely seem but another indication of his lack of common 
prudence. In truth it was the highest wisdom. 

He was not set to fashion the world's commoner ways 
with needful compromise and regard for the weaker faith, 
but to bear witness to a higher, more absolute truth which 
in its purity might be beyond the practical politics of the 
actual world and only intelligible to the few. 

Francis' power was in his fidelity to the truth as he saw 
it and in his entire absorption in the vision which led him 
on. Because it was a true vision of life, it would compel the 
world's homage, even though the world could not fully 
understand and accept it; and in this homage the world 
would be, in some measure at least, ruled by it. But if 
Francis had turned from the following of his vision to argue 
by the way, his argument would have been of httle avail, 
because the vision itself would have been lost sight of ; since 
only in his faithful quest was the vision itself revealed. 
Never was it more needful than now that he should be just 
himself, the perfect knight of a spiritual chivalry. It is not 
for a soldier in the act of battle to debate the merits of his 
loyalty, when the cause to which his faith is pledged depends 
upon his own good blows. Instinctively Francis felt that, 

273 18 


and it made him the more m-gent to take part in this new 
adventure for the love of Christ, which at his own suggestion 
the Chapter had agreed to. 

And this time Cardinal Ugolino did not prevent his leaving 
Italy. Whether he attempted to do so at first and afterwards 
gave way to the pleading of Francis ; or whether he straight- 
way consented, we do not know.^ 

Nor is it possible to say how far the Cardinal was con- 
cerned in the appointment of the two Vicars-General who 
were to govern the fraternity during Francis' absence. 

One of these, Brother Matthew of Narni, a man of noted 
sanctity," was to reside at the Porziuncola and receive the 
novices ; the other. Brother Gregory of Naples, was to travel 
through the provinces " to console the brethren ". ^ In after 
years this Gregory of Naples was to acquire an unenviable 

' M. Sabatier suggests that the Cardinal favoured Francis' absence at 
this time in order that he himself might have a freer hand in dealing with 
the fraternity : but this is pure assumption based only upon M. Sabatier's 
theory that the Cardinal was an out-and-out partisan of the dissident friars 
(cf. Vie de S. Franqois, p. 265 seq.). But the facts of the case as history re- 
cords them, rather show that Ugolino was honestly endeavouring to act 
impartially as between Francis and the dissidents and to bridge over the 
difficulties. As a man of aSairs he frequently supported the dissidents in 
what he deemed a more practical policy : at the same time he was truly 
anxious for the observance of the rule and ideals of Francis, and was anxious 
to safeguard them against an unspiritual laxity. 

An instance may be found in the letter which Honorius III wrote to the 
Priara (Minors and Preachers) who were sent to Morocco in 1225 — a letter 
probably dictated by Ugolino as Cardinal-Protector. The Friars had found 
that they couid not get alms of food in that country and had requested a 
dispensation allowiug the use of money. The dispensation was granted, but 
only for so long as the necessity forced the Friars to use it : " quanidiu prcE- 
scripta vos arctat necessUas . . . dum tamen fraus non interveniat, sive dolus, 
vel s'mceritaUm vestram ciipiditas non seducat ". — Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 26. 

^ Cf. Conformit. in Anal. Franc, iv. p. 212. 

' Chron. Jordani, in Aiuxl. Franc, i. no. 11 , p. 4. 


reputation ; ^ and how he fulfilled the trust now committed 
to him, we shall soon see. 

The two Vicars were both good preachers ; and Gregory 
of Naples had been trained in the schools.^ 

The government of the fraternity being thus arranged, 
Francis set out for Ancona, to find a passage in one of the 
boats which were to carry crusaders to the East about the 
feast of St. John the Baptist on 24 June.^ He was accom- 
panied by Brother Peter Cathanii, the learned doctor of laws, 
who in the past had acted as Francis' Vicar at the Porziun- 
cola ; by Brothers Illuminato * and Leonard, both men of 

■ He was appointed Provincial of Prance in 1221 or 1222. At the death o{ 
Francis, Ellas addressed a letter to him {vide infra, p. 261). In 1240, he was 
deposed from the Provinclalate and imprisoned on account of his cruelty to 
the brethren (Eccleston [ed. Little], coll. vi, p. 36). M. Sabatier identifies 
him with a Gregory of Naples who became Bishop of Bayeux in 1274 (cf. Spec. 
Perfect, p. 333) but this is very doubtful (cf. P. Hilarin Pelder, Histoire des 
Etudes, p. 181, n. 5). Concerning this Bishop of Bayeux, vide Gallia Chris- 
tiana, pp. 369-70 ; also Etudes Franciscaines, xxiv. p. 615 seq. and xxvi. 
p. 411 seq. M. Sabatier has published in Spec. Perfect, append, vii. 
p. 332, a letter of Gregory of Naples which purports to have been written 
"anno Dni. 1219, 13 Kalendas Jauuar. in festo SS. Fabiani et Sebastiani ". 
The letter declares the conditions upon which the Friars Minor receive a 
house at Auxerre. The date of the letter, however, cannot be authentic. 
Henry de Vill-neuve — mentioned in the letter — was consecrated Bishop of 
Auxerre only on 20 September, 1220 (cf. Eubel, Hierach. Cath. p. 121) ; besides 
which, the feast of SS. Fabian and Sebastian is on the 13 Kalends of February. 
Possibly the date of the letter should be MCGXXIIII instead of MCOXVIIII 
as M. Sabatier gives it. Gregory of Naples was minister of Fiance when 
Haymo of Faversham entered the Order, sometime between 22 May, 1222, 
and Easter, 1224 (of. Eccleston [ed. Little], pp. 34-35). 

2 Two of his sermons are preserved in the Bibliot. Nationale of Paris. 
Cf. Little's Eccleston, p. 36, n. a. 

'■I Cf. Acta SS. Octob. ii. p. 611 ; P. Sabatier, Vie die S. Fran,,ois, p. 258. 

* Illuminato had been lord of Rocca Acoarina in the Valley of Rieti. Cf. 
M. Achille Sansi, Documenti storici, p. 269, cjuoted by P. Sabatier, Spec. 
Perfect, p. 306, n. 3. 



noble birth ; by Brother Barbaro, perhaps the Barbaro who 
had joined him in the earhest days of the fraternity, and others. 
They were thirteen in all ; and it is said that the number 
might have been greater, so eager were many of the brethren 
to share in this adventure.' 

Leaving Ancona, the band of missionaries came first to 
Cyprus where Brother Barbaro lost his temper in a sharp 
dispute with another brother, but immediately humbled him- 
self, much to the edification of a nobleman of the island.^ 
About the middle of July they reached Acre, the stronghold 
of the Crusaders on the Syrian coast. ^ 

Thence after a few days Francis sailed on to Egypt to 
join the Christian army besieging Damietta ; from which 
point he meant to penetrate into the land of the infidel. This 
was Francis' first experience of those military expeditions 
which had aroused his enthusiasm in his youth and which 
still symbolized to him the hardihood and adventure of his 
vocation. The glory of chivalry mingled in his mind with this 
actual warfare for the Faith which was gathering the knight- 
hood of Christendom beneath the walls of Damietta : it lay 
like a sunlit mist over the spread-out army of the Cross, 
giving it a mystic beauty. 

But very quickly Francis learned that here too, in the 

1 Bartholomew of Pisa (of. Conformit. in Anal. Franc, iv. p. 481) relates 
that Francis being unwilling to show favouritism in the choice of his com- 
panions, called a little child and bade him point out the friars who were to 
accompany him. 

2 II Celano, 155 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 88. 

' Golubovich, Bibliotheca-Bio-Bibliografica, p. 93. According to Mariano of 
Florence, St. Francis touched also at Crete. Of. ihid. p. 77. Golubovich 
asserts (p. 93) that St. Francis left all his companions at Acre, excepting 
Brother Illuminato, with whom alone he went on to Egypt. I know not on 
what authority he makes this statement, which seems in contradiction with 
XI Celano. 30. 


camp over which one of the most sacred emotions ot the 
Christian people yearned expectantly, the purest ideal rubbed 
shoulders with the most sordid. Heroes there were, fearless 
and sincere in their religious devotion, who would die for the 
Cross with the martyr's piety : but for the most part the 
Cross was a mere war-cry, and the vision which beckoned 
the crusader onward was but a purely secular love of adven- 
ture, or worse still, lust of plunder and the vicious liberty of 
the camp. To Francis the shameless vice in the Christian 
army was sacrilegious defilement of a sacred cause, and he 
did not wonder at the disasters which marked the progress of 
this drawn-out siege. ^ So far the fortune of war was balanc- 
ing between the two armies, though there had been much 
bloodshed. But towards the end of August the crusaders 
prepared for a grand assault upon the city. Francis, with 
prophetic insight, knew that the assault was doomed to 
failure and was much troubled and could not decide whether 
to warn the leaders of the army or keep silence. The crus- 
aders were confident of victory. " If I tell them disaster 
will happen to them," said Francis to one of his companions, 
" they will think me a fool ; yet if I remain silent I shall not 
escape the judgment of my conscience. Tell me, therefore, 
what think you I should do ? " The brother replied : "Less 
than nothing is it for thee to be judged by men ; for it is not 
now that they will begin to call thee a fool ". 

So Francis went and gave his warning. The army, how- 
ever, laughed and went gaily forward to the attack. Francis 
in an agony of soul dared not watch the battle, but twice he 

1 The siege of Damietta was begun about 24 August of the preceding year 
by Leopold, Duke of Austria. The Papal Legate, Cardinal Pelagio, arrived in 
the besieging lines in September, bringing with him an Italian army. Of. 
Golubovioh, op. oit. p. 89. 


sent his companion to see how things were happening. 
Each time the brother returned, saying he could see nothing. 
A third time Francis sent him out, and then he came back to 
relate that the Christian army was falling back in disarray. 
That day the crusaders lost six thousand slain and captive. 
Francis grieved much over the dead, especially over the 
fallen knights of Spain who had maintained the attack with 
utmost gallantry so that few of them returned.-^ Negotiations 
were now opened between the leaders of the crusade and the 
Sultan of Egypt. On both sides it was merely a stratagem 
to mark time : the crusaders were daily expecting reinforce- 
ments from across the sea : the Sultan hoped diplomatically 
to work upon the fears of the Christians and force them to 
retire altogether. These negotiations lasted until the end of 
September ; when the Sultan, disillusioned as to the intentions 
of the Christian army, again began hostilities.^ 

Meanwhile Francis had again set common prudence at 
nought and had gone over to the Sultan's camp. 

After the disastrous repulse of the crusaders, he had 
sought out the Papal legate who was with the army, and 
requested leave to cross over to the Moslem lines and preach 
to the Sultan. The legate heard him incredulously. Was it 
not known that the Sultan had offered a golden ducat for the 
head of any Christian sent to him ? He would not take upon 
himself any responsibihty in the matter. It might be an 
inspiration from God or a temptation from the devil. There- 
fore he would neither encourage nor dissuade. Let Francis 
take his soul into his own hands ; only let him behave himself 

1 II Oelano, 30; Leg. Maj. xi. 3. See the accounts of the battle given by 
Jacques de Vitry and others, in Golubovich, op. cit. p. 7 seq. The battle waa 
fought on 29 August. 

' Golubovich, op. oit. p. 94. 


so as not to bring shame on the Christian name.* That was 
sufficient for Francis. Eager to save the souls of the Sultan 
and the Moslem people or to die in the attempt for the honour 
of his Saviour, he at once set out, taking with him Brother 
Illuminato. At the start they came across two lambs on the 
road. The face of Francis brightened : he turned to Illuminato 
and exclaimed: "Put thy trust in the Lord, brother; for in 
us that saying is fulfilled : Behold I send you forth as sheep 
in the midst of wolves ". Perhaps Illuminato needed the 
consolation. Outside the Christian lines they were seized by 
Moslem soldiers, and, unable as they were to make themselves 
understood in the Moslem speech, they were roughly handled. 
Eventually as Francis persistently cried out : " Soldan, 
Soldan ! " the soldiers took him to the Sultan's camp, and 
here Francis could converse with the officials in the lingua 
franca. He told them his purpose : he wished to preach the 
Gospel of Christ to the Sultan. Among the common soldiery 
in the Moslem lines this declaration might have been followed 
by a speedy death; but in the courtly circle of the Sultan's 
own camp, it was received with good-humoured tolerance. 
The courtier-Moslem was much of a rationalist and was not 
averse from debating the relative merits of the Gospel and 
the Koran as an intellectual pastime. He was, moreover, 
a curious mixture of ferocity and chivalry, even as were 
his Christian enemies. So Francis was brought into the 
presence of Melek-el-Kamil and expounded the Gospel of 

Not unlikely the Sultan had consented to the audience as 
an interlude in the serious affairs of the day. But as he 

1 Of. Leg. Maj. ix. 8 ; Conformit. in Anal. Franc, iv. p. 481 ; Bernard! 
Thesaurarii, Liber de Acguisitioiie Terra Sancice, in Golubovioh, op. oit. p. 13 


listened, he knew that here was more than a profession 
of belief, fanatical or conventional. Before the audience was 
over he felt himself drawn to this preacher; and in dismiss- 
ing him for the day, ordered that he should be courteously 
provided for in the camp. It seems that there were several 
audiences ; ' and that the Sultan was so far won over to him 
that he asked him to remain at his court and dwell there. 
" AVillingly," replied Francis, " if you and your people will be 
converted to Christ." And seeing that the Sultan was yet 
unconverted, Francis proposed a final test. " If you hesitate 
as to the merits of the law of Mahomet and the faith of 
Christ, command that a great fire be lighted, and I together 
with your priests, will enter into the fire that you may know 
which is the more worthy and true." To which Melek-el- 
Kamil replied that no priest of his would accept the chal- 
lenge. " Then if you will promise for yourself and your 
people, to come to the worship of Christ if I come out of the 
fire unhurt, I will enter the fire alone," retorted Francis; 
" only," he added, " if I am burnt up, impute it to my sins, and 
if the Divine power protects me, acknowledge Christ to be 
true God and the Saviour of all." 

The Sultan answered that he dared not accept the test for 
fear of a tumult amongst his people : yet he begged Francis 
not to cease from praying for him that he might come to 
know the true Faith. Then he wished to give Francis some 
token of his good-will. Would he not accept some precious 
gift if not for himself at least for the poor whom he might 
relieve in their needs ? And so it seemed that the only result 
which was likely to come of further preaching would be a re- 

' Cf. Jacques de Vitry, Episi. de capfione Dnmiatae, in Golubovich, op. cit. 
p. 8 : " Cum multis diebiis Saracenis verbum Domini jii'^'Bdicasset • " Historia 
Occidentalis (Douai), p. 353; Golubovich, op. cit. pp. 9-10. 


iterated offer of gifts. Francis had not come hither for that. 
Sorrowfully, therefore, he at length asked permission to 
retm-n to the Christian camp, and at Melek-el-Kamil's orders, 
he was conducted back with courtesy.^ 

Doubtless when he again appeared in the Christian lines, 
many smiled at his simplicity ; yet there were some who felt 
that the simple faith in which the enterprise had been under- 
taken was of more enduring value than any actual achieve- 
ment. Perhaps these already suspected that for lack of this 
same faith the crusade was doomed to ignoble failure, even 
though Damietta might be taken. 

Damietta did indeed fall before the winter was passed 
thanks to the large reinforcements sent by the Pope ; and on 
the feast of the Purification, 1220, the crusaders entered the 
city in solemn triumph. And then the discipline of the army 

' I Gelano, 57 ; Leg. Maj. ix. 8. Cliron. Jordani, in Anal. Franc, i. no. 10. 
p. 4. Gf. Golubovioh, op. cit. ut supra, p. 235, note 1. In Ver-ba fr. Illu- 
miinaii (Golubovicli, op. cit. p. 36) there is a description of Francis' first 
audience with the Sultan which is quite consistent with Eastern manners. 
The Sultan, so the story runs, ordered a carpet to he spread which was 
covered with crosses. " If he treads on the crosses," said the Sultan, " I will 
accuse him of insulting his God ; if he refuses to walk on it, I will accuse him 
of insulting me." Francis unhesitatingly walked across the carpet ; and 
when taunted by the Sultan that he had trodden on the cross which he pro- 
fessed to adore, he replied : " You should know our Lord died between two 
thieves. We Christians have the true cross ; the orossea of the thieves we 
have left to you, and these I am not ashamed to tread upon." The reply is 
quite in keeping with Francis' character. The Yerha jr. Illuminati, are given 
by P. Golubovich from the Vatican MS. Ottob. lat. n. 522 of the XIV century, 
a collection of stories by a Minorite preacher. P. Golubovich remarks that 
the original source of these stories may yet be found. There is, however, no 
indication of them in existing authentic documents. See also the stories re- 
lated in Conformit. in Anal. Franc, iv. p. 483. Cf. ed. 1513, fol. 223 a. 

In the sacristy of the Gonvento Sagro, Assisi, there is preserved a horn 
which is said to have been given by the Sultan to Francis and which the saint 
afterwards used to call people together when he was about to preach. 


broke down completely, and the greater part succumbed to 
the seductive pleasures of the Egyptian spring; and the last 
decencies were openly disregarded.' 

Francis remained with the army till the city was captured, 
striving to stem the flood of vice. At last in sheer despair 
of doing any good there, he turned his back on the crusade, 
and taking advantage of the spring sailings, crossed the 
sea to Acre.'^ And with him went a number of clerics from 
the suite of the crusading prelates, who renounced high pre- 
ferments in the Church to enter the fraternity.' 

At Acre, Francis was welcomed by Brother Elias, the 
Minister- Provincial of Syria, and with Elias was a novice, 
Brother Caesar of Speyer, who had been a famous preacher of 
the Crusades and had to flee from his native Germany to 
escape the anger of the relatives of the men whom he had in- 
duced to take the cross. This Csesar was, moreover, a learned 
theologian and withal a man of simple, sturdy piety, ready to 
lay down his life for a sacred cause.* He had gone with the 
Christian army to Syria and there bad been received as a 
friar by Elias. 

Prom Acre, Francis set out on a pilgrimage to the Holy 
Places of Palestine, his heart uplifted with a loving rever- 
ence for the earth which had been trodden by the feet of his 
Divine Master. Some say that in the camp of the Sultan 

' " Scordandosi i disagi ed i perigli della gueira, si diedcro in braccio alia, 
mollezza, alia volutta, ed aipiaceri ttitti che loro poteano ispirare la vicinanza 
della piimavera, il clima ed il bcl cielo di Damiata," M ohaud, Storia, lib. xii. 
in Golubovioh, op. oit. p. 96. 

-L'estoire de Erodes in Golubovich, p. 14. 

^Cf. Jacques de Vitry, loc. oit. p. 8. 

* Eventually he died a martyr's death for his zeal for the Franciscan 
Rule, as some assert at the connivance of Brother Elias himself. Cf. Angelo 
Clareno, Hist. YII Tribulat. in Golubovich, pp. 118-19. 


Kamil, he had met Kamil's brother Conradin, the Sultan 
of Damascus, who had given him a free pass to visit the 
shrines of the Holy Land, which freed him from paying the 
customary dues which the Moslem exacted from Christian 
pilgrims.^ He also made a preaching tour of the Christian 
colonies in Syria, and gained many adherents to the frater- 
nity, amongst whom was the prior of the Cathedral at Acre. 
It is said that near Antioch a community of Benedictine 
monks, won by his preaching, made a vow of absolute 
poverty and became Friars Minor. '-^ But of these pilgrim 
journeys but httle certain record is left us, and thus a chapter 
in the story of Francis over which one would willingly linger, 
comes to an abrupt conclusion. 

Meanwhile, however, the missionary enterprise initiated 
at the Chapter of 1219, had already been consecrated with 
the martyr's blood. Five of the brethren sent to Morocco 
had been done to death in those parts, whilst Francis was 
still with the crusading army before Damietta. They were 
Brothers Berardo, Otho, Pietro, Accurso, and Adjuto. Setting 
out on their enterprise shortly after Francis had started on 
his, they had first gone to Seville in Spain, where the Moslem 
still ruled ; and for an attempt to preach there, had been 
scourged and imprisoned and finally expelled that kingdom. 

Thence they had passed over to Morocco. With a zeal 
which might well seem intemperate to men of less impulsive 
ardour, they not only preached in the streets but had even 
entered the mosques and denounced Mahomet there. Im- 
prisoned and scourged though they were, their fervour was 
not to be restrained : in prison they attempted to convert 
their jailers. ' The Moslem, unwilling to proceed to extrem- 

' Angelo Clareno, ia Golubovioh, p. 56 ; Gonformit. in Anal. Franc, it. 
p. 482. 

''Ccmformit., ibid. p. 483. 


ities according to law, acceded to the request of the Infante 
Pedro of Portugal, who was then resident at the Sultan's 
Court, that these impetuous friars should be sent out of the 
country. Don Pedro thought thus to save their lives and 
probably also to prevent an outburst on the part of the 
populace against the Christians in the country. 

But the five friars knew nothing of diplomacy and had 
not the temper to live and let live. Mahomet was in their 
eyes the enemy of Christ, and the souls of this people were 
rightful spoils for their Divine Redeemer. To go back upon 
their mission would be but a traitorous backshding from their 
fealty to their Saviour. At the first opportunity they eluded 
their guard and returned to the city ; then appeared again be- 
fore the mosque, appealing to the people to renounce Mahomet. 

Again they were seized and cast into jail and put to the 
torture. AVhilst upon the rack, they were offered life and 
gifts if they would deny Christ and acknowledge Mahomet ; 
but their only reply was to utter the praises of Christ and 
invite their torturers to worship Him. At length, finding all 
persuasions useless, the judges put the law into execution. 
The five friars were beheaded and their bodies cast outside 
the walls to be the food of dogs. And so they died for the 
Christ they loved, not wisely perhaps if we judge them by 
the ethics of a more wary world, but gloriously in the sim- 
plicity of their faith. Thus indeed Don Pedro, the Portuguese 
Infante, adjudged their martyrdom. Stealthily he had their 
bodies rescued and taken to Portugal, where with great re- 
verence they were laid in the Church of the Canons Regular 
at Coimbra.^ 

Now amongst those who flocked to pray beside the mar- 

' 0£. Passio Satict. martyrum frat. Beraldi, etc. in Anal. Franc, in. pp. 
679-96 ; ibid. pp. 15-21 ; Conformit. in Anal. Franc, it. pp. 322-3. 


tyrs' relics was a young Canon Eegular, who listening to the 
story of their martyrdom, burned to emulate their example. 
Not many days later he went to the Friars Minor who dwelt 
outside the city and begged them to give him the habit of 
their Order and send him to preach to the Moors : and 
gladly the friars welcomed him. That was how Anthony of 
Padua — as he came to be styled — joined the fraternity. The 
martyrs had not died in vain if only Anthony's coming were 
the result ; as we shall yet see. 

When Francis heard the news of the martyrdom he cried 
out in a transport of gratitude to heaven : " Now I can truly 
say I have five brothers ". And in the days which were upon 
him the triumph of their simple faith was as balm to his 
spirit. He needed some such consolation ; for the great 
sorrow of his life was now fast closing upon him. 

He had returned to Acre, not it would seem without some 
foreboding of trouble. There he was met by a Brother 
Stephen, a lay brother, who had come from Italy, bringing a 
message from many of the brethren there, which begged 
Francis, if he were still alive, to come back at once and save 
his Order. The brother related how the two Vicars-General 
were imposing obligations upon the brethren at variance with 
the Eule Francis had given them, and how the brethren who 
refused to be bound of these new obligations were badly 
treated by the Vicars and even driven out of the Order. 
Brother Stephen himself had had to flee secretly without the 
knowledge of the Vicars. And he brought with him, in con- 
firmation of his story, a copy of the new Constitutions which 
the Vicars had made at a Chapter they had held. 

Francis was at table when the Constitutions were brought 
to him, and amongst the foods before him was flesh meat. 
In the Constitutions he read that the brethren were not 


to quest for flesh meat not even on days which were not 
fasting-days : moreover they were to fast on Mondays as well 
as on the days prescriljed in the Eule. Whereupon Francis 
turned to Peter Cathanii, who was with him. " Messer 
Peter, what shaU we do? " he asked. " Ah, Messer Francis," 
repUed Peter, " do as you think well, for authority is yours." 
" Then we will eat what is set before us according to the 
Gospel," said Francis.^ 

When the next boats sailed at the end of the summer, 
Francis returned to Italy .^ He took with him Brothers Peter 
Cathanii, Elias and Csesar of Speyer for he felt he had need of 
these men with their knowledge of affairs : and they were 
men in whom he had a great trust. 

' Cf. Chron. Jordani in Anal. Franc, i. no. 11, 12, p. 4. Angelus 
Claren. Hist. VII Tribulat. in Golubovich, op. oit. p. 56 ; Expusit. super 
Begulam, ibid. p. 57. Of. Goluljovioh, pp. 126-8. 

"The exact time of Francis' return to Italy is a matter of controversy. 
Golubovich (op. cit. p. 97) argues for March- April, 1221 ; Sabatier (Vie de S. 
Franrois, p. 278), in the summer of 1220; Herman Fischer (Der heilige 
Fran.iiskus von Assisi wdhrend dcr Jalire 1219-21, p. 20 s«g.), in the early 
part of 1220. 

The facts we have to guide us in fixing the date are these ; Francis was 
at Damietta in February, 1220; and afterwards visited Syria and went about 
there. Gelauo evidently implies that Francis spent some time in Syria, 
journeying through the country : " deinde Syriain deambulans " (I Celano, xx. 
in capile). But Elias, who accompinied Francis hack to Italy, was succeeded in 
the Proviucialate of Syria by Luca di Puglia before 9 December, 1220. Cf. 
Sbaralea, Bull. Franc, i. p. 6. Again it is noteworthy that the letter ad- 
dressed by Houorius III to the Superiors of the Order on 22 September, 1220 
(Sbaralea, op. cit. i. p. 6) is not addressed to Francis by name, as is usual 
in similar letters, but simply ; Dilectis filiis prioribus sou custolibus Minorum. 
This, however, is hardly a conclusive argument. But we know that Peter 
Cathanii died at the Porzluncula on 10 March, 1221. Golubovich assiwies 
that Peter nmst have returned to Italy before Francis ; but Giordano da Giano 
who relates these events in detail, says Francis took Peter, Elias and Caesar 
with him on his return [Anal. Franc, i. no. 14, p. 5). The probability there- 
tore, is that Francis returned in the September sailings of 1220. 



Wb must now go back upon the past eighteen months and 
review the course of events which had happened amongst 
the brethren in Italy. 

Two incidents which followed almost immediately after 
the General Chapter of 1219 throw a clear, if reflected, light 
upon the controversy which had then arisen. On 11 June 
the Holy See issued commendatory letters to the brethren, 
designed to obtain for them the protection of the bishops in 
the various provinces into which they might be sent ; ^ on 
27 July, Cardinal Ugolino published his Constitutions ^ for 
the Poor Ladies, or as he styled them, the Poor Nuns of the 
Order of San Damiano.^ 

^BuU "Cum diUcti," in Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 2; Chron. xxiv. Gen., 
Anal. Franc, in. p. 14. 

^Ugolino's Constitutions were dated " Perusii apud monasteriimi S. 
Petri, YI Kal. Aug. a" 1219". C£. Bull " Sacrosancta Bomana Ecclesia" of 
9 Dec, 1219 — Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 3. The full text of the Constitutions is 
found in the Bulls " Gum omnis " of 24 May, 1239 (Sbaralea, ibid. pp. 
263-7) and " Solet annuere " of 13 November, 1245 {ibid. pp. 394-9) : 
and with some modifications in the bull " Cum omnia " of 5 August, 1247 
{ibid. pp. 476-83.) Of. The Life aial Legend of the Lady St. Clare, Intro- 
duction, ii, pp. 11-31. 

^ " Moniales pauperes," " Pauperes inclusce Damianitce," " Moniales 
ordinis S. Damiani " were the varying styles used in the Papal bulla. 
(Sbaralea, Bull. i. pp. 36, 37, 62, 207, etc.). 



The acceptance by the brethren of the commendatory 
letter of Honorius III, was in distinct opposition to the will 
of Francis : it was one of those changes in the conduct of 
the fraternity to which he could never be brought to give his 
assent. At the end of his days he wrote in his Testament : 
" I firml}' command by obedience all the brethren wherever 
they are that they dare not to seek any letter from the 
Roman Court, either by themselves or by any intermediary 
person, nor for a church nor for any other place, nor on pre- 
text of teaching, nor on account of bodily persecution ; but 
wherever they are not received, let them flee into another 
land to live in penance with the blessing of God ".^ After 
the failure of the missions in Germany in 1217, the question of 
asking the Pope to grant the brethren letters of protection 
had been mooted. Francis' reply was invariably a passionate 
refusal. " You Friars Minor you know not the will of God 
and will not allow me to convert the whole world as God 
wills," he retorted on one occasion; "for I wish by holy 
humility and reverence first to convert the prelates ; and 
these when they see our holy life and our humble reverence 
towards them, will themselves ask you to preach and convert 
the people ; and they will call the people to hear your preach- 
ing better than your privileges which will only lead you to 
pride. . . . For myself I wish only this privilege from the 
Lord that I may never have any privilege from man, save only 
the privilege to do reverence to all and to convert mankind 
through obedience to our holy Rule, more by example than by 
word." ^ 

If you ask why Francis stood so steadfastly against a mere 

1 Test. S. Franc, in Seraph. Leghl. Text. p. 268 ; Opuscula, p. 80. 
'^ Spec. Perfect, cap. 50 ; Gonformit. in Anal. Franc, iv. 471. Of. Ubertino 
da Casale, in Erhle ; Archiv in. p. 53. 


precaution of apparently common prudence, the only answer 
is that Christ his Master had claimed no right or privilege for 
His disciples in this world, but had sent them forth shielded 
only with the Divine protection ; ^ and Francis' loyalty bade 
him take the Gospel as literally as might be. 

That first letter of Honorius HI was the beginning of the 
policy of protection with which the Holy See ever after 
fostered the Franciscan movement. In May of the following 
year the Pope sent a further letter, couched in stronger terms, 
to the bishops of France, who were still hesitating as to the 
orthodoxy of the new Order. ^ Moreover it became the custom 
for some of the cardinals to give letters of their own, for the 
better reception of the brethren on their missionary journeys.^ 

Undoubtedly this policy was favoured by Cardinal Ugolino. 
As he regarded the matter, the brethren might indeed gain 
much merit for their own souls and perhaps edify the people, 
by patience and meekness under trials. On the other hand, 
many of them would fail under too great a trial ; and too, 
through lack of this initial prudence, the Church in many 
parts would be deprived of the good example and preaching 
of the brethren. Francis' faith was heroic : but not all men 
can be asked to practise heroic virtue. The wind must be 
tempered to the shorn lamb. Moreover the Cardinal was a 
legalist, trained in the law ; and he thought it only right that 
the brethren should show their credentials from the authority 
which sent them forth to preach. The fraternity needed 
this legal sanction and direction if it were to be of use to the 

iCf. Matt. X. 14, 23; Mark vi. 11; Luke ix. 5. It must be remem- 
bered that Francis took these and similar passages as a direct personal com- 
mission for himself and his brethren. 

2 Bull "Pro dikctis filiis," Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 5. Of. Anal. Franc, ill. 
p. 14, n. 9. 

33 Soo. 66. 



Church. Without such legal sanction they were in danger 
of becoming mere vagrants in the world : a dangerous thing 
for most men. This same thought made the Cardmal en- 
courage a more definite organization than yet existed in the 
fraternity. He favoured the brethren living in larger houses 
where regular life of a more conventual character could be 
observed. Until now the dwellmg-places of the brethren had 
been of the humblest sort ; either hermitages partly fashioned 
out of rocky caves, as one finds to-day at Greccio, Monte 
Casale, the Celle near Gortona, and the Garceri near Assisi ; 
or they were wattle huts or a poor man's cottage. Always 
they were designed for only a few friars ; for Francis taught 
that his Lady Poverty could be rightly served only where the 
friars were few in number.^ A conventual life, strictly so 
called, did not exist. The friar, though under obedience 
to a superior, was very much of a wanderer, alternating his 
missionary journeys with periods of retreat. " The itinerant 
minstrel of the Lord," was no bad description of him. But 
now those directing the fraternity favoured a greater stabUity 
of community iife.^ The first step in this more rigid organi- 
zation was a decree obtained from Honorius III, ordaining 
that in future no friar should be received to profession till 
after a year's probation ; that once professed, no friar should 
be allowed to pass over to another Order ; and that uo friar 
might wander about without letters of obedience from his 

The decree was certainly reasonable enough. Even such 
an enthusiastic admirer of the brethren as Jacques de Vitry 

1 II Gelano, 70. 

^Gf. P. Hilariu Felder, Histoire des Etudes, p. 119: " Toiilefois c'etait 
Id encore Id perioele de transition de la vie nomade a la sfabiliie ". 

^ Bull " Cum secundum consilium," of 22 September, 1220. Sbaralea 
Bull. I. p. 6. 


foresaw danger in the lack of systematic training of the 
novices now that the friars were so numerous.-' Unhappily 
the vicars did not confine themselves to such reasonable and 
necessary organization. 

As we have seen, they enacted constitutions the tendency 
of which was to introduce that monastic observance against 
which Francis had protested at the Chapter as contrary to 
the simplicity of the friar's vocation. The mere addition of 
an extra fasting day and the restriction in the use of flesh 
meat, might not be much in themselves ; but it is evident 
that they were but part of an attempt to change the proper 
character of the fraternity and supplant Francis' ideal of 
a hteral gospel observance by a more rigid legalist asceticism 
founded on the customs of more ancient Orders. Not un- 
likely they had in view the Ugoline Constitutions for the 
Poor Ladies, and were influenced by them. These Constitu- 
tions are in fact a document of the first value in tracing the 
development of the entire Franciscan family at this period. 

Briefly speaking, the Ugoline Constitutions reveal the 
legalist reformer endeavouring to capture the new religious 
enthusiasm evoked by Francis and to fasten it within the 
closest bonds of traditional asceticism. Upon the wings of 
that new fervour, perhaps, the writer of the Constitutions felt 
any burden might be borne. His ideal evidently was a 
monastic observance which would rival in its hardship and 
straitness the strictest of the ancient Eules. 

' Epistola " de captione Damiatcs," edited by Kohrichfc in Zeitsclirift fUr 
Eirchengeschichte, 16, p. 72 : " Hec autem religio valde periculosa nobis vuletur, 
quod fion solum perfecti, sed etiavi juvenes et imperfecti qui sub conventiiali 
discipHna aliquo tempore arctari et probari debuissent, per imiversum mundum 
bini et bini dividuntur ". This passage, however, is wanting in the text 
edited by Bjngars: Gesta Dei per Fraiicos, torn. i. pp. 1146-9 (c£. Golubovioh, 
op. oit. p. 7). 



These Constitutions presupposed the profession of the 
Benedictine Eule, but further prescribed perpetual abstinence, 
continual silence, and the law of enclosure. They were 
altogether lacking in that " sweet reasonableness " which 
breathes in the legislation of the great monastic founders ; 
and certainly missed the liberty of spirit which animates the 
Eule of St. Benedict. They exhibit all the rigidity and harsh 
externalism of a rule meant to correct and guard against 
abuses, with none of the inspiring idealism which is the very 
life of a religious order. From the particular point of view 
of the Franciscan fraternity, the constitutions made no 
reference to that strict poverty which was the essential law 
of the Franciscan life, though, as a matter of fact, the Poor 
Ladies were enthusiasts for poverty. 

Ugohno had been influenced in drawing up these Constitu- 
tions by the Cistercian customs ; ^ it is not unlikely that they 
were in reality the work of a Cistercian monk, to which the 
Cardinal gave his authority and sanction. Perhaps had he 
given the drafting of them to one of the brethren, the Ugo- 
line Constitutions would have been less foreign in spirit to 
the heart of Clare and the Sisters at San Damiano. As it 
was, to them the Constitutions was in truth "the great 
sorrow ".^ 

It is doubtful whether the Cardinal regarded the Poor 
Ladies, at least those outside San Damiano, as alhed to 
the fraternity. Most of the convents had been founded or 
reformed by himself in virtue of his legative powers and 

' He acknowledges this in the bull, " Licet relut ignis," of 9 Pebraary, 
1287 (cf. Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 209). The first visitor of the Poor Ladies 
appointed by him was the Cistercian monk Ambrogio (cf. Sbaralea, Bull. i. 
p. 40; Wadding, Annates, ad an. 1219). 

- Cozza-Luzzi, S. Chiara di Assist, p. 34. 


were in no sense under the jurisdiction of St. Clare. San 
Damiano was, of course, in a different position ; but even 
Clare had received no formal Eule. She had vowed to live 
in poverty as the brethren did ; beyond that she observed the 
Eule of the brethren as far as women might observe it. 
Her vow of poverty had been confirmed and protected by 
special privilege by Innocent III ; ^ but the Cardinal held 
that this privilege was personal to herself and the sisters at 
San Damiano, and was not to be taken as an obligation 
binding upon other Poor Ladies. ^ 

It is true that when in 1'218 Ugolino obtained permission 
to found new convents, Honorius III reserved to the Holy 
See the ownership of the lands and chapels given for the use 
of the communities.^ Thus at the beginning these new 
foundations did in fact observe corporate poverty, inasmuch 
as whatever property was set apart for their use, was not 
their own. Moreover, in their zeal for poverty the Poor 
Ladies were everywhere content with land barely sufficient 
— and frequently insufficient — to supply the most frugal 
necessities of life. So far their life was in accord with that 
worship of poverty which Francis had preached with such 
splendid devotion. Moreover, Ugolino in several instances 
took abbesses for his new communities from San Damiano, 
and thus brought them under the influence of the ideahsm 
which radiated from that sunlit sanctuary. 

Nevertheless the convents of the Poor Ladies, except San 
Damiano, were not purely Franciscan in their origin ; and 
perhaps it was for that reason that Francis never claimed 

' Vide supra, p. 144. 

^Gf. Letter, " A^igelis Gaudium," which Ugolino as Gregory IX sent to 
Blessed Agnes of Prague, 11 May, 1238, Sbaralea, Bull. i. 242. 

-Of. Bull, " LUtercB tua," of 7 August, 1218, Sbaralea, ibid. p. 1. 


jurisdiction over them in the same way as he did over San 
Damiano;! but Clare herself as the years went on was 
staunch in m-ging that they should all be allowed to observe 
absolute poverty, and be made akin to the fraternity if they 
so willed.^ Probably "the great soitow " with which Clare 
received the Ugoline Constitutions was not merely for the 
sisters who were directly affected by them, but for the whole 
fraternity ; her keen intuition would tell her how the new 
ordinances would influence the brethren too. Indeed there 
can be little doubt that the Vicars were so influenced when 
they drew up the Constitutions which spread consternation 
amongst the true followers of Francis. 

The disloyalty of the Vicars to the mind of Francis went 
near to breaking up the fraternity. Their Constitutions at once 
called forth an active opposition on the part of those who 
were imbued with the primitive spirit ; and this opposition 
the Vicars, and the Ministers who sided with them, met with 
violent repression. " Not only were they [the opposition] 
afflicted with unjust penances, but as men of evil mind they 
were cast out from the community of the brethren . . . Many 
fleeing from fury, wandered about here and there, bewailing 
the absence of their pastor and guide." ^ Moreover, having 

' Wadding {Annales, ad an. 1219) states that Francis before going to the 
East had given over the direction of all convents of Poor Ladies, except San 
Damiano, to Cardinal Ugolino ; but there is no evidence that he ever regarded 
such convents, e.g. San Severino, as quite in the same relationship to him as 
San Damiano. It is certain that in some instances he appointed brethren to 
act as spiritual directors of the Poor Ladies elsewhere — e.g. he appointed 
Brother Roger to be the director of the Blessed Philippa at Todi (Wadding, 
Annales, ad an. 1236), but the close relationship of San Damiano with the 
fraternity seems to have been exceptional. 

'•^ Vi'le e.g. St. Glare's letters to Blessed Agnes of Prague, Acta SS. Mart. 
vol. I. pp. 505-7, transl. by Mrs. Balfour, Tlie Life and Legend of the Lady St. 
Clare, pp. 188-54. 

^Angelo Clareno, Hist. VII Tribidat. Golubovioh, p. 56. Of. Chron. 


broken the bond of loyalty which hitherto hid kept the fra- 
ternity in subjection, the Ministers found themselves unable 
to hold the wayward spirits in restraint. Some openly threw 
off their obedience and went their own way. 

Thus one brother, John de Compello, put himself at the 
head of a band of wandering zealots of the fanatical sort 
common at the time : they were all lepers, and of both sexes.' 
Another made himself a pilgrim's habit and went wandering 
about exhibiting himself as a fool for humility's sake.^ At 
first on his return Francis hardly realized the mischief that 
had been done. He lingered a few days at Venice, whither 
the boat had brought him. He was suffering in body as well 
as in mind, for his journeys in the East had sorely tried his 
delicate health. One little comfort he had here. Walking in 
the marshes through the thickets, he came upon a multitude 
of birds singing gaily. Whereupon he said to the brother 
who was with him : " our sisters the birds are praising their 
Creator ; let us go into the midst of them and chant our hours '^ 
to the Lord" and at their coming the birds were not dis- 
turbed or frightened. But finding the voices of the birds 

Jordmii, in Anal. Franc, i. n. 13, p. 4. : " Eodetn tempore fuU ultra mare pytho- 
nissa quaedam . . . Redite redtte quia per abseniiam fratris Francisci ordo tur- 
hatur et scindilur et dissipatur. Et hoc verum fuit," 

' Gliron. Jordani, in Anal. Franc, i n. 13, p. 4, Lempp's contention (Frire 
Elie, p. 42) tl'iat this movement was an attempt to organize tlie lay penitents 
of the Franciscan movement, can hardly be seriously considered. John de 
Compello has been identified with John do Gapella, one of the first twelve 
companions (cf. Anal. Franc, in. p. 4 ; Sabatier, Vie, p. 270) but this is very 
doubtful. The only apparent connexion between the two names is the state- 
ment of Earth, of Pisa, that John de Capella died a leper. {Coii/ormit., in 
Anal. Franc, iv. p. 178). Gf. Manuscrit de Leignitz in Opuscules de Criti- 
que, fasc. II. p, 49. 

^11 Celano, 32-33. He eventually returned to the order. 

^ " HorcB canonicce," i.e. the office of the Breviary. 


distracting, Francis after a time bade them be silent until he 
had fulfilled his debt to the Lord. Then when the office was 
said, Francis gave them a sign, and they agam began to sing.^ 

On the homeward journey Francis found the fatigue too 
much for his weakness and had perforce to ride on an ass. 
Brother Leonard, who trudged along on foot over the hot 
ground, envied him this comfort, and became mentally un- 
reasonable and ill-tempered. " In the world," said he to 
himself, " my people would not walk beside the Bernardone, 
and here am I compelled to trudge behind his son whilst he 
rides". Leonard was of a noble family in Assiai. To his 
astonishment hardly was the complaint shaped in his mind 
when Francis dismounted and turned to him, saying : " Take 
my place, brother ; truly it is not becoming that I should ride 
whilst thou, who art of noble stock, should have to walk on 
foot ". But Leonard, in utter confusion and penitence, cast 
himself at Francis' feet.'- So with their primitive simplicity 
for their comforter, they went on until they came to 
Bologna ; and here Francis had his first actual experience of 
the changes which had taken place. 

On approaching the city he was informed that the 
brethren had built a large convent there ; and hearing the 
description of it, Francis was smote to the heart. It ap- 
peared to him a sign manual of the betrayal of the vocation 
of the fraternity. Peter Stacia,' the provincial of Lom- 
bardy,* was himself a doctor of law of the University of 

' Leg. Maj. viii. 9 ; Wadding, Annales, ad an. 1220. 

2 11 Celano, 31 ; Leg. Maj. xi. 8. 

^ He is also called Joannes della Schiaccia [Go^iformit. in Anal. Franc, iv. 
p. 440), Joannes de Sciaca [Actios, cap. 61) ; Joannes de Straoiiia and Petrus 
Joannes de Stracliia (Wadding, Annales, ad an. 1216, 1220. Petrus Staoia is 
the name given him by Angelus Glarenus, Hist. VI Tribulat). 

■■Gl Golubovich, Series Provinciarum, in Arch. Franc. Hist. an. i. faso. i. 
p. 3. 


Bologna, and be had built the convent as a study-house for 
the brethren. Compared with the buildings hitherto used by 
the fraternity, the convent was spacious ; ^ but the worst 
feature in the eyes of Francis was that the Provincial in 
some way claimed it as the property of the Order, or at least 
allowed it to appear that he did so. Thus he had openly 
violated the Rule on two essential points : he had departed 
from the absolute poverty in which the fraternity was 
founded, and he had set at nought that evangelical simplicity 
which was the other self of poverty. It would seem too that 
Peter Stacia had acted in deliberate disregard of the inten- 
tions of Francis, drawn on by the desire to emulate the 
Dominicans who had opened a school at Bologna in 1219, 
the year that Francis had gone to the East.^ Francis knew 
Bologna and the temper of its schools. When he had sent 
Bernard da Quintavalle there some j^ears previously it had 
been to bear witness in its midst to the simplicity of the 
Gospel-mind against the intellectual hardness and conceit 
bred in its schools, where law and the liberal arts were studied 
with an ostentatious disregard of theology and the study of 
Scripture. Probably Peter Stacia intended to include theo- 
logy amongst the studies of the brethren ; perhaps even to 
open a theological school, such as was already winning 
applause for the Dominicans.^ But Francis had no desire 
for theology of that sort, in which intellectual reasoning was 
more evident than the heart-study of the Gospel. Still it 
was not now a question of the study of theology, but the 

1 Cf. Angelo Clareno, op. cif. : Hilarinua a Lucerna, Histoire des Etudes, 
p. 133, note 2. 

2Gf. Jordanus de Saxouia, Z)e initiisOrd. Fraedicat., in Qu^tif-Eohard, 
Scriptores Ord. Fraedicat. i. p. 18. 

^ Jaoques de Vitry, Historia Occidentalis (Douai) p. 333. 


more fundamental question of the character and purpose of 
the fraternity. Were the brethren to abide in their origmal 
poverty and simphcity ? The new convent of Bologna was a 
direct negative : it was the announcement of a new spn-it at 
variance with the spirit of that poverty which the brethren 
had vowed to serve. ^ That was the one clear fact which 
the heart of Francis grasped with piercing intuition. 

In indignant sonrow Francis refused to enter the convent, 
but went and sought a lodging with the Friars Preachers. 
There he pondered upon this betrayal which confronted him. 
Such an evil example must be met with dire chastisement. 
Summoning Peter Stacia to his presence, he upbraided him 
with aiming at the destruction of the fraternity and called 
down upon him the curse of heaven ; and he would have 
ordered all the brethren of the convent to do penance but 
that a Friar Preacher interceded for them. If they had 
done wrong, this friar urged, they had acted from lack of 
judgment, not from malice, and were willing to make repara- 
tion. So Francis stayed his hand, and only bade them im- 
mediately quit the convent : nor would he allow even some 
sick brethren who were there, to remain.^ After that he 
continued his journey southwards, learning, as he went, all 
the sorrow that had come upon his brethren during his 

'Had Peter Staoia gone so far in violation of tlie Rule as to collect money 
for the building ? I am inclined to think so. In the eighth chapter of the 
Rule of 1221, Francis' emphatic and painstaking regulation that the brethren 
shall not collect money for houses or places, evidently implies that the Rule 
had been violated in this respect. It is a passionate utterance which a mere 
possible danger would not have evoked, but only an actual betrayal. And 
that would account lor the curse which Francis called down upon the minister 
and which he would never revoke. 

^IIGelano, 58; Spec. Perfect, c&p. 6 ; Actus, c&p. 61; Conformit., in Anal. 
Franc, iv. p. 440. 


(Grotto of Softiano) 


Even amongst his earliest companiona was found one at 
least who had fallen in with the new ways, Philip the Long, 
a man of undoubtedly holy life. He had been appointed 
Visitor of the Poor Ladies in succession to the Cistercian 
monk Ambrogio ; and had procured letters of protection for 
them from the Holy See, to safeguard them against trouble- 
some bishops. 

Very quickly now the news of Francis' return was carried 
throughout the provinces of the peninsula and brought to 
the brethren who had fled to mountain hermitages and hidden 
places to escape the persecution of the dominant party. To 
these suffering ones his appearance was like the breaking of 
day after a night of dread.^ Somehow the rumour had gone 
abroad that he was dead : possibly it was a rumour born of 
the sufferings and fears of the brethren in the absence of 
news ; or it may have been a distorted echo of the martyr- 
dom of the brethren in Morocco. But everywhere, as the 
news of his return was passed from place to place, a great 
cry of joy broke forth. ^ 

Doubtless many of the persecuted brethren dreamed that 
now things would be again as they were before the Vicars 
had brought trouble into the fraternity. Francis, however, 
gauged the situation more accurately. A great betrayal had 
happened : but he was clearly aware that things could not be 

' According to Wadding (Annales, ad an. 1220) Francis met Cardinal 
Ugolino at Bologna, and went with him to a Camalduleae monastery near 
Alvernia, where they passed some time in retreat. Upon this statement M. 
Sabatier builds the theory that the Cardinal purposely kept Francis out of 
the way whilst the ministers were carrying out the Cardinal's policy (Vie de 
S. Frangois, pp. 277-8). But there is no authentic evidence that Francis 
went to Alvernia at this time ; nor does it appear from the Registri that the 
Cardinal was at Bologna in 1220, though he was undoubtedly there in 1218, 
1219, and 1221 (c£. H. Fischer, Der Iieilige Franziskus, p. 67). 

2 Chron. Jordani, in Anal. Franc, i. no. 14, p. 5. 


quite as they were before. Simplicity of faith and unity of 
purpose no longer held the brethren in an easy obedience. 
The dominant party at least were not satisfied with his 
guidance, and never would be : they were shielding them- 
selves behind the patronage of those in high places. One 
conclusion was clear to his simple soul : the fraternity needed 
a ruler who would govern the recalcitrant brethren in a more 
masterly fashion than he himself could. It was not in him 
to act "the sergeant of the Lord " and coerce men; if the 
brethren would not follow him freely, he was not the leader 
for tliem.^ Yet it was on his conscience to do what he could 
to save this child of his love, as the fraternity was to him. In 
his perplexity his thoughts turned to Cardinal Ugolino as the 
man whom God had destined to foster by his authority in the 
Church, this family of His. Straightway therefore he turned 
his steps towards Eome.^ He avoided meeting the Vicars on 
the way : ^ his appeal was to the Holy See. 

Arrived in the Eternal Citj', Francis went to the Lateran 
palace and sat down upon the ground outside the door of the 
Pope's chamber to await his coming out, too humble to seek 
admittance. AVlien at length the Pope came forth, Francis 
greeted him : " Father Pope, God give thee peace ! " and the 
Pontiff replied : " God bless thee, my son " ; and awaited his 
request. " My lord," said Francis, "because you are so great 
and busy with affairs of great movement, the poor cannot often 
have access to you, nor can they speak with you as often as 
there is need." And when Honorius reminded him that there 

' Chron. Jordani, in Anal. Fraiic. i. n. 14, p. 5. 

"Honorius III was in Kome from November, 1220, till April, 1222. Pre- 
viously to this he had been at Orvieto all the summer and early autumn of 
1220, save for a journey to Mantua at the end of July. Of. Mon. Gmm. Hist. 
torn. I. p. 83 seq. 

2 Spec, Perfect, chap. 71. 


were cardinals and bishops to whom he could have recourse, 
Francis exclaimed : " you have given me many popes ; I 
beseech you give me one with whom as necessity arises I may 
speak and seek counsel m your stead concerning the affairs of 
my Order ". " Whom do you wish that I should give thee, 
my son? "asked the Pope. " Give me," said Francis, "the 
lord Cardinal of Ostia." And thus, according to one witness. 
Cardinal Ugolino became Protector of the fraternity at the 
Roman Court.' 

But others say that Francis first sought out Cardinal 
Ugolino and spoke to him his trouble ; and that the next 
morning the Cardinal took Francis with him to the Papal 
presence and bade him speak out before the Pope and 
cardinals what was in his mind : then afterwards it was that 
Francis had private audience with the Pontiff and proffered 
his petition that Cardinal Ugolino should be the ruler of the 
brethren as the Pope's vicegerent.^ 

However this may be, from this time the Cardinal became 
the constant adviser of Francis and his " apostolic lord " ; ^ 
and it was his master-mind that directed the organization of 
the fraternity. 

His first acts were to compel John de Compello to 
disband hiswandering community and return to his obedi- 
ence, and to revoke the " letters of defence" granted to the 
Poor Ladies. This latter action is significant of the spirit in 
which he assumed his new office. As the supreme arbiter in 
the fraternity he consistently endeavoured to meet the 

1 Ghron. Jordani, ut supra. 

2 11 Gelano, 25; 3 Soo. 64-5. Gf. I Gelano, 100. Tbc point of agree- 
ment between the two narratives is found in 3 Sor . 65. Giordano evidently 
relates the final episode in this negotiation. Ugolino was in Rome in the 
winter of 1220-1. 

^Oi. Spec, Perfect, cap, 23 ; " Dominus et Apostolicus nosier ". 


wishes of Francis in as far as he could do so, having regard 
to what he considered the needful organization of the Order. 
He himself, as we have seen, was not an idealist but a man 
of affairs ; yet there was that persistent element of mysti- 
cism in his character which drew him to Francis more closely 
than many of the brethren were drawn. To him the ideas 
of Francis were never merely unpractical ideas but the in- 
spiration which he sought to bring within the bounds of the 
practicable : and with infinite patience he set himself to bridge 
over the gulf which was widening between the mind of the 
founder and many of the new leaders of the brethren. Let 
justice be done to his memory. Not always did he see as St. 
Francis saw : yet he never deliberately offended against the 
trust Francis put in him. 

Francis did not leave Eome till he and the Cardinal had 
arrived at an understanding as to the course to be taken in 
regard to the fraternity. Peter Cathanii was reinstated at 
the Porziuncola as vicar ^ to administer the ordinary affairs 
of the brethren, whilst Francis was to concern himself with 
a revision of the Kule such as was needed to bring peace and 
order into the disturbance. The revision was to incorporate 
the experience which had been gained as to the government 
of the brethren. 

Not unlikely too the matter of the "letters of defence" 
led to a discussion of the relations between the brethren and 
the Poor Ladies, and that the Cardinal then recognized the 
distinct privileges attaching to San Damiano ; whilst at the 

' It seems certain that the appointment of Peter Oathanii as vicar referred 
CO in II Ce aao, 143, and Spec. I'erfect. cap. 39, refers to an earlier period, at 
a time when Francis was sufiering from his recurring sicknesses. Both au- 
thors say distinctly that it happened a few years after Francis' conversion 

"paxu>is annis elapsis post conversionem suam". 


Bame time he obtained Francis' consent to brethren being ap- 
pointed directors of other convents.^ And, as I incline to 
think, one other weighty subject was then broached by th3 
Cardinal, the organization of a new fraternity of lay-penitents 
for those men and women, and they were a great multitude, 
who had attached themselves to the brethren as informal 
followers of the gospel of poverty. 

Meanwhile messengers were sent to all the provinces of 
the Order to call the brethren to attend a general Chapter 
at the following Pentecost. But before the Chapter met 
Peter Cathanii died and Brother Elias, the late Minister- 
Provincial of Syria, was appointed in his stead. Peter died 
on 10 March, 1221.^ One wonders how things might have 

'According to Wadding (Annales, ad an. 1224) Francis in 1224 wrot;e a 
Eule for the Poor Ladies. But there is no evidence of any such rule except 
the Formula Vitae referred to by Gregory IX in his bull Angelis gaudium, of 
11 May, 12.38 (Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 242). This Formula Vitae is generally 
supposed to be contained in the sixth chapter of the Rule of St. Clare, ap- 
proved by Innocent IV on 9 August, 1253 (Sbaralea, Bull. i. pp. 671-8 ; Seraph 
Legislat. Text. p. 46 scg.). 

The probability is that Francis accepted the Ugoline Constitutions for the 
sisters at San Damiano, except as they allowed property. Certainly they 
were observed at San Damiano even in St. Francis' lifetime, for he modified 
the rigidity of the fasts in favour of the weaker sisters (vide Eyistola III S. 
Clarae ad B. Agnet. Boliem., Acta SS. Mart. torn. vii. p. .507). Moreover in 
the eventual Rule of St. Clare we find the Ugoline prescriptions of enclosure, 
perpetual fast, and silence maintained. 

^ So reads the ancient inscription on the wall of the Porziuncola : " atino 
Dni MGGXXI id Martii corpua fr. P. Gatanii qui hie requiescit migravit ad 
Dominum ". According to Ohron. xxiv. Gen. in Aiial. Franc, iii. p. 30, Peter 
died in 1224 ; Papini (Storia di San Francesco, i. p. 187) interprets the above 
inscription as 10 March, 1222, on the ground that the common mediaeval 
mode of computation reckoned the beginning of the year from 25 March. 
But this is very uncertain. Moreover it was evident from-Giordano da Giano's 
account of the Chapter of 1221, that Elias was then the virtual superior of 
the Order [Ghrcm. Jordani, no. 17, in Anal. Franc, i. p. 6). 


gone with the brethren in the next few years had he lived 
to stand between Francis and the dissident ministers, with 
his experience and loyalty : for he had governed the brethren 
at the Porziuncola for many years in the absence of Francis 
except for that momentous absence in the East. He, too, like 
Cardinal Ugohno, was aware of the difficulty of maintaining 
a large multitude in the simplicity of the primitive days ; ' 
yet like the Cardinal, never lost his essential faith in Francis. 
But, as we have said, he died before the Chapter met 

1 II Celano, 67. 



As one stands to-day in the plain facing Assisi and looks 
towards the city, the feature which most persistently holds 
the eye is not the mediaeval fortress crowning the hill nor 
anything amidst the cluster of bell-towers which lie beneath 
the hill's brow, but the great convent to the left where the 
mountain slopes steeply down to the river Tescio. Built 
upon a long line of great towering arches, because of the 
slope of th-e hill, the Sagro Convento at a distance looks 
more like a feudal fortress than a rehgious house. As you 
gaze upon it your thoughts turn for comparison to the for- 
tress-churches, such as that of Durham, built and held by 
priest-soldiers, doughty men in Church and State. No 
matter how often you stand to gaze upon the city, nor with 
what intention, invariably that great convent-basilica, gleam- 
ing white against the dark greyish hills, draws your eye to 
itself : and if you know and love Franciscan legend, a com- 
plexity of emotion will as invariably distract you as you 
gaze. You will remember how that gleaming convent sym- 
bolized to many of the followers of Francis a great betrayal; 
how to others it seemed the appropriate expression of the 
world's homage to a great and well-loved saint. Perhaps in 
your own heart both sentiments will call for acknowledg- 
ment ; yOQ will be glad that the world gave of its magnifi- 
cence and its noblest art in the building of a shrine which 
was to hold the body of him who deserved the world's best ; 
and yet inconsistently you will begrudge the world its share 
in him who loved poverty and nature more than wealth and 
art, And perhaps in the consciousness of your own complex 

305 20 


feeling you will judge Brother Elias less harshly than some 
have judged him, and with a greater truth. For this vast 
pile of buildings reared under the supervision of Brother 
Elias, who became Vicar-General of the Order after the 
death of Peter Cathanii, is, in a sense, a monument to his 
genius and the expression of his character : though not alto- 
gether. ^ Beyond the confines of Umbria, close to the city of 
Cortona is the convent of the Celle, nestling hly-of-the- 
valley-wise beside a running stream at the base of a ravine. 
That, too, was built by Elias ; and the low narrow building, 
wherein a tall man can hardly stand upright, reveals another 
cast of character." Yet more or less rightly, the Sagro 
Convento has been taken to express the mind and life-pur- 
pose of the man who had now become the administrator of 
the fraternity. The Celle of Cortona represent only a trans- 
ient, unfulfilled emotion : the Assisian Convent and Basilica 
stand for the man. 

It is at once a great achievement and a failure. In itself 
it is so subtly woven of gracefulness and strength : laughing 
to scorn, as it does, the hindrances which the site first put in 
the way of its construction ^ and rising from the declivities 

' Whether it was Elias or Gregory IX who initiated the scheme to build 
the great church, we cannot say. It is certain, however, that Gregory IX 
approved the scheme and commissioned Elias to carry it out. (Fid* Bull, 
Recolentes, in Sharalea, Bull. i. p. 40.) The Sagro Convento itself was built 
to be a papal residence when the Popes were sojourning at Assisi, as well as 
a residence for friars. 

^Salimbene nevertheless blames him for choosing so delightful a spot to 
dwell in. Op. cit. p. 104. 

^The CoUe d'Inferuo on which the convent stands was separated from 
the city by a deep lavine ; and the underground tomb had to be hewn out of 
solid rock. Early prints slil] show the city and convent thus separated ■ and 
M. Sabatier is of opinion that one gained admittance to the convent by 
means of two drawbridges thrown across the ravine which would give a still 


in beauteous freedom. Truly a noble example of art ; yet 
lackmg the supreme glory of art ! Did it but show in its superb 
strength some feeling for the sublime unworldliness which 
it professes to honour, it would have been a perfectly congru- 
ous expression of the world's homage. But the building 
conveys no such feeling ; it reveals no aspiration towards 
what itself is not. It is essentially self-contained, demand- 
ing attention not for what it is not, but for what it is. It 
makes no humble confession of the greater glory of him 
whose body it enshrines ; rather it claims his glory as an 
appanage of its own. And so the Sagro Convento — perfect 
in most things that make for perfection in art — bears a mark 
of insincerity and vanity ; and whilst its beauteous strength 
dominates your senses, your soul is apt to be depressed : a 
sense of tragedy falls upon you — at first you hardly know wh}- 
Much the same complexity of feeling and the same final 
emotion comes to one in looking back upon Elias himself.' 

greater similarity to a fortress. Of. Seliucourt, Homes of tlie First Francis- 
cans, p. 22, n. 2. 

^ For the story of Brother Elias, of. P. Afi6, Vita difrate EUa ; Ed. Lempp, 
Frire Elie de Cortone ; Golubovich, Biblioteca, p. 106 seq. et alibi. Unfortun- 
ately the materials for the story of Elias are not abundant, and one has to 
take the personal opinions of his contemporaries regarding him with due allow- 
ance for the strong feeling he excited amongst both friends and adversaries. 
The early chroniclers of the Order, from a comprehensible delicacy, avoided 
mentioning him except with the briefest references : and so, though the main 
outlines of his character and policy stand out clearly in history, there is a 
lack of detail, which leaves much scope for subjective theories concerning his 
motives and even the details of his story. There has been much speculation 
as to the date and place of Elias' birth. According to P. Afi6 he was born at 
Beviglia a short distance from Assisi. In the earliest chronicles he is simply 
styled Brother Elias without further designation ; the Ohron. xxiv. Gen. 
(Anal. Franc, m. p. 249) is the first to style him Frater Helias de Assisio ; 
by which appellation he was known until the seventeenth century, when the 
custom arose of calling him Elias of Gortona, from his place of sepulture. 

20 * 


There is a certain fascination in the broad sweep of his ambi- 
tion, in the strength of purpose which made him, the son of 
an artisan, become the trusted counsellor and ambassador of 
pope and emperor and the virtual ruler of the citizens of 
Cortona. He went far towards making the Franciscan Order 
a world-power, throwing its influence into the whirl of pohtics ^ 
and into the mtellectual lite of the rising universities ^ and 
into the mission-fields of IMoslem territory.^ 

He was undoubtedly a man of intellectual culture. He 
had studied at the University of Bologna, and had acquired 
not merely the legal knowledge necessary to practise as a 
notary, but a taste for the arts ; and if tradition be true, he 
was even attracted to the mysteries of the alchemist.^ And 

An inscription on liis tomb in the Church of San Francesco, Cortona, in 
the sixteenth century, described him as " Helias Coppi di Cortona'. Of 
Anon. Corton. pp. 36 and 75, in Lempp, p. 36, n. 8. Salinibene, who was 
received into the Order by Elias in 1238, says his father came from Castel 
Britti in the territory of Bologna and his mother from Assisi; he further tells 
us that Elias was styled Bonusbaro or Bombarone. Cf. il/on. Germ. Hist. 
xxxii, pars i, p. 96. 

' e.g. he sent Haymo of Paversham to Nicea to negotiate for the reunion 
of the Greek and Latin churches (Wadding, Annales, ad an. 1232-33 ; Ecoles- 
ton [ed. Little], p. 35) ; he intervened between belligerent Italian parties in the 
cause of peace (of. Lempp, p. 107 ; Appendice ii. 2). He himself acted as 
ambassador of Gregory IX in negotiating with Frederic II (cf. Salimbene, op. 
(it. p. 98). See also Huillard-BrehoUes, Hist. Diplom. v. pars i. p. 346. 

2 Eccleston [ed. Little], pp. 35, 62. Vide Salimbene's famous dictum : 
"Hoc solum habuit honumfr. Helias, quia ordinem fr. mincrum ad studium 
theotogiae promovit^^ (op. cit. p. 104). 

^He sent missionaries to Georgia, Damascus, Bagdad, Morocco, Tunis, 
and Aleppo. Cf. Sbaralea, Bull. i. pp. 93, 100, 102, 106, 155, etc. Cf. Golu- 
bovich, op. cit. p. 113-4. 

^Cf. Eccleston, p. 36; Ghron. xxiv. Gen. in Anal. Franc, in. p. 217 and 
p. 695. Matthew of Paris [Chron. ad an. 1239) says Elias was a renowned 
preacher. Several works on alchemy have been attributed to him, but they 
probably belong to the alchemist, Elias Ganossa. Of. Salimbene, op. cit. 
p. 160; Lempp, p. 121; Golubovich, op. cit. 116-7. 


not only had he a rare mental ability, but in his bearing with 
others he could be gracious in a large and magnificent way,' 
and he had the gift of winning men's confidence and attach- 
ing thera to his person. But here perhaps one discovers his 
weakness. For those who gained his goodwill he had an 
abundant kindness which showed itself in frequent atten- 
tions and timely service ; but those who withstood him he 
crushed, when he could, with no hesitation ; and those who 
were useless to him he passed by with indifference. He 
rathlessly scourged and imprisoned those who protested 
against his policy after Francis' death, even though they bad 
been the special friends of Francis : ^ and as the years went on 
he developed an uncontrollable temper ; ^ he could brook no 
opposition. When his purposes were thwarted he pitted him- 
self in violence first against the brethren who withstood him ; 
then against the Pope who censured him. Finally, after be- 
ing drawn into the Imperial service and leading the em- 
peror's embassies, he retired into comparative seclusion in 
the city of Cortona where the people worshipped him : and 
though an outcast from the Order and excommunicated by 
the Church, he spent his last years building a large church 
under the title of St. Francis, in which he himself was event- 
ually buried: and to-day that church still stands in Cortona 
bearing witness to a life's failure : and the atmosphere of 
failure is in the place, so cold and spiritless it stands. But 
down in the ravine, the lowly Celle is still alive with fragrant 

In judging Elias one must never forget the Celle, even 
though he himself at the last seems to have despised it. 

' Cf. Eccleston [ed. Little], p. .36; Chrou. xxiv. Gen. in Anal. Franc, in. 
p 89 seq. ; Angelo Clareno, Hist. VII Trib. in Golubovich, op. oit. pp. 118-9, 
" Of. Eccleston, p. 8d. Salimbone, op. oit. p. 104 scq. 


Truly a complex character was this man and not to be 
lightly judged : one predestined by his weakness to fail and 
by his strength to come very near to positive greatness. 

One would wonder what could have induced Elias to 
become a Friar Minor, did not one remember the humble 
Celle. Undoubtedly he had in him some germ of heroic self- 
denial ; and if his graciousness was apt to degenerate into 
patronage, yet he was not without sincere emotions of attach- 
ment, as is evident from the letter he wrote to Gregory of 
Naples, the Minister of France, in which he announced the 
death of Francis.^ Doubtless it was the evidences of these 
qualities, joined with his marked business capacity, which 
won Francis' confidence. That the appointment of Elias to 
be Vicar-General was due to the suggestion of Cardinal 
Ugolino is not unlikely : yet it is certain that Francis gave to 
Elias, if not an intimate affection, which we may doubt, at 
least a high reverence;^ and I do not question that the selec- 
tion of Elias as vicar was in harmony with Francis' own 
wish. This we know, that he had chosen him as one of his 
companions on his return from Syria, together with Peter 
Cathanii and Caesar of Speyer, both of whom were Francis' 
confidants in his time of trouble.^ In truth it may have 
seemed to both Francis and the Cardinal, that Elias with his 
personal austerity and graciousness, his zeal and ability, was 
the desired peacemaker between the two parties in the fra- 
ternity : and to the Cardinal, Elias' thoughtful solicitude for 
Francis in his bodily weakness would be an additional re- 

1 Cf. Ada SS. Octob. ii. p. 668. 

2 There is more than a courtier's flattery or a litterateur's fine phrase in 
Celano's saying ; " frater Helias qiicm loco matris elegerat sibi" etc. (I Celano, 
98). Tradition as well as history shows that Francis held Elias in respect, 
even though he came to suspect his policy, and detect his weakness. 

^ Csesar of Speyer assisted Francis to revise the Rule. Vide infra p 312. 


commendation.^ Yet it was a sad day for the brethren when 
Ehas became vicar. In him the spirit of secularism, sullenly 
clamouring for recognition since the Chapter of 1217, devel- 
oped a Titanic force within the fraternity which bis ability 
wrested in large measure from its original purpose. He 
gave the brethren place and power in the world ; his genius 
gained for them political and ecclesiastical consideration ; he 
might have made them even more than he did, a vast politi- 
cal organism, but that the primitive instinct of the fraternity 
proved too strong for him and rebelled and at last over- 
whelmed him. Even then he was not altogether overcome ; 
and in his self-chosen seclusion in Cortona, when his disap- 
pointed days were drawing to a close, he perhaps found some 
cynical satisfaction in the thought that those who had 
wrought his fall could not escape from the legacy he had left 
them, but must accept it even though some of them might 
groan at the gift. 

All this eventual tragedy is as yet to come. At the time 
of his appointment as Vicar, most of the brethren hoped that 
he would be Erancis' staff in his declining health and the 
comfort of the brethren. 

The general Chapter assembled at the Porziuncola in the 
closing days of May, 1221 : ^ three thousand brethren includ- 
ing the novices, it is reckoned, were present.'^ Cardinal 
Ugolino was in the north of the peninsula and could not 
attend : Cardinal Eainerio, governor of the duchy of Spoleto, 
therefore presided. On the opening day a bishop sang the 
Mass. Erancis assisted as deacon and afterwards preached, 

'The legends prove that Eliaa showed an anxious care for Francis' 
physical health. Gf. I Celano, 98, 105 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 115 ; Chron. 
Jordani, in Anal. Franc, i no. 17, p. 6. 

2 Pentecost fell in 1221 on 30 May. 

^Ghron. Jordani, in 4->ial. Franc, i. no. 16, p. 6. 


taking for his text the words of the Psalmist, " Blessed be the 
Lord, my God, who teacheth my hands to fight : " ^ a fitting 
text surely for the occasion. 

Francis met the Chapter with the purpose of reasserting 
the primitive vocation of the fraternity. Upon the advice of 
Cardinal Ugolino, he had re-written the Eule with the as- 
sistance of Brother Caesar of Speyer. This revised Eule he now 
submitted to the Chapter for its acceptance. If the dissident 
brethren had expected any modification of the original pro- 
gramme of the fraternity, they were now mirch disappointed. 
The primitive Eule was maintained intact : but it was am- 
plified by the addition of certain capitular decrees and papal 
enactments and by a number of admonitions with which 
Francis sought to strengthen the brethren in the life he would 
have them live.- Such additional precepts which the revised 
Eule contained concerning poverty and the simplicity of 
Gospel observance, did but emphasize the manner of life of 
tlie first days and were all in the spirit of the primitive Eule. 
Thus the brethren were forbidden to meddle in the temporal 
affairs of the novices or to receive any of their goods except in 
cases of real necessity, when they inight accept a share " like 
other poor "; '^ the precept of manual labour remained, but 

^Chron. Jcmlani, in Anal. Franc, i. The text is from Psalm cxliii. 1 

2 Vide infra, Appendix i, p. 465 That Francis was accustomed to submit a 
draft of his proposed legislation to the General Chapters ia certain (of. Epis- 
tola III. in OjpusciUa, p. 109 ; II Celano, 128). We may lake it therefore that 
the revised Rule was submitted to the General Chapter at least in rough draft. 
It la, however, not unUkely that Cassar of Spoyer gave it a more literary 
finiahing, and added the quotations from Scripture and the Fathers, after the 
Chapter, with a view to submitting the Rule to the Holy See for approbation. 
Cfesar remained tor nearly three montlia " in the valley of Spoleto " alter the 
Chapter. Of. Chroii. Jordani, Anal. Franc, i. no 19. p. 8. 

^Regula I. cap. 2. 


to emphasize the menial character of the service the brethren 
should perform, they were forbidden to be chamberlams or 
cellarers or overseers in the houses of others ; nor might they 
accept any employment which would give rise to scandal or 
be injurious to their souls. ^ Whoever came to be received 
mto the fraternity, be he friend or foe, thief or robber, is to 
be received kindly and made welcome." The brethren must 
avoid appearing " sad and gloomy hke hypocrites," but they 
" must bear themselves as joyful and merry and becomingly 
gracious "? They are to confess their sins if possible to a 
priest of the Order, but if this be not possible, to some other 
priest; and if a priest is not at hand they shall confess to a 
brother who is not a priest, though afterwards they must seek 
absolution from a priest.* These regulations were not new 
but had already been imposed in former Chapters : ^ and 
so probably were the declarations that no brother should 
ride on horseback except in case of necessity, and that beasts 
of burden were not to be kept in the places where the brethren 
reside : ^ also that no brother should preach without licence 
from his minister.'^ Probably too the enactments concerning 
missons to the infidels were but a repetition of a rule made at 
the Chapter of 1219.^ But there were other precepts which 
it seems evident arose out of the trouble of the past two years. 
Thus, no brother is allowed to receive vows of obedience 
from any woman ; ^ the ministers are forbidden to assume 
the title of prior. ^° Twice the revised Eule asserts " the liberty 
of the Gospel " in regard to the food of the brethren : " they 
may eat of all foods which are placed before them, according 
to the Gospel"; and again, "whensoever necessity shall 

' cap. 7. ^ibid. " Regula i. cap. Y. •'cap. 20. 

" Of. Spec. Perfect, cap. 66 : Actus, cap. 29 ; II Gelano, 128 ; ibid, 175. 
^Kegula I. cap. 15. 'cap. 17. ^ cap. 16. ^ cap. 12. '" cap. 6. 


arise, it is lawful for all the brothers, wherever they may be, 
to eat of all foods that men may eat "} 

One regulation recalls the treatment meted out by the 
dissident ministers to the brethren who had opposed them in 
Francis' absence in the East : " If one of the ministers," says 
the Kule, " shall command any of the brothers anything con- 
trary to our life or against his soul, the brother is not bound 
to obey him, because that is not obedience in which a fault 
or sin is committed." 

Moreover, the ministers "who walk according to the 
flesh and not according to the spirit " are to be admonished 
by the brethren and if they do not amend, they are to be re- 
ported to the General Chapter. - 

In the regulations forbidding the collection of money 
"for certain houses or places" one hears an echo of the 
scandal at Bologna.^ Finally the conclusion of the Eule 
reiterates Francis' protest at the preceding General Chapter: 
" On the part of Almighty God and of the Lord Pope and by 
obedience, I, Brother Francis, strictly command and enjoin 
that no one take away from these things that are written in 
this hfe or add anything written to it over and above ; and 
that the brethren have no other Kule ".* 

The revised Eule was not a treaty of peace : it was a 
challenge thrown down to those who would change the vo- 
cation of the fraternity ; and as such it was taken by the 
dissident ministers. It is evident they had no intention of 

'cap. 3, 9. -cap. 5. ^ Regula i. cap. 8. 

■•The insertion of the words " and of the Lord Pope " may merely mean 
that Francis was enjoining the observance of the Rule in virtue of the authority 
given him by the Pope Innocent III, when the primitive Rule was approved. 
But it may be that the phrase was inserted with a view to submitting the Rule 
for formal approbation either to the Cardinal-Protector, the Pope's represent- 
ative, or directly to the Holy See. 


observing it. The legal-minded amongst them held that until 
the Eule was formally sanctioned by the Holy See, Francis 
had no authority to impose it and could not therefore bind the 
brethren in conscience to abide by it.^ 

The Eule in fact hit them hardly. One minister came to 
Francis and asked him what was meant by the words : 
" When the brothers go about through the world, let them 
carry nothing by the way, neither bag nor purse nor bread," 
etc." Francis unflinchingly replied : " I will have them under- 
stood thus; the brethren must have nothing besides their 
habit, cord and breeches, and as it is said in the Eule, those 
who are compelled by necessity, may have shoes ". " What 
then shall I do ? " asked the minister thinking of his portable 
library ; " for I have many books the which are valued at fifty 
pounds." Francis exclaimed : " Brother, I must not and 
cannot go against my conscience and the profession of the 
holy Gospel which we have promised to observe". At this 
the minister grew very sad. Francis continued passionately : 
" you brethren who wish to be called Friars Minor by the 
people and to appear to them observers of the Gospel and 
yet in fact would have your treasure-chests ! But I am not 
going to lose the Book of the Gospel for the sake of your 
books. Do as you will ; but never shall my permission be 
made a snare to the brethren."^ That "Do as you will" 

^.Vide infra, p. .380. The question as to how far Francis could legis- 
late for the brethren apart from the consent of the ministers continued to be 
debated until 1230, wlien Gregory IX in the bull Quo eloiigati (of. Sbaralea, 
Bull I. pp. 68-70) declared that the brethren were not held by obedience to 
obey regulations made by Francis without the consent of the ministers, that 
is, the General Chapter. That was of course a correct legal view. But 
Gregory added that the brethren should in every way be ready to conform 
themselves to Francis' reasonable intentions and holy wishes. 

2 Eegula I. cap. 14. 

^ S]]ec. Perfect, cap. 3 ; II Celano, 62 ; Scripta F. Leunis, Doc. Antiqua, 


became very much the despairing cry of Francis in the face 
of the continued opposition of the dissident ministers. He 
could not coerce them to follow his lead ; he could only go 
on bearing witness to the truth which he held to have been 
given him by Christ Himself. Let those walk with him 
who would ; for the others he disclaimed responsibility. 
These on their part at once set to work against the Rule ; not 
as yet clamorously but nevertheless persistently. Cardinal 
Ugolino was appealed to. To a large extent he was in sym- 
pathy with them, only he would not have them openly and 
truculently offend Francis. With a statesman's acumen he 
sought to give effect to what he considered their reasonable 
demands whilst yet keeping intact the essential principles of 
the Eule. Thus in the matter of the house at Bologna, he 
publicly declared that the building belonged to the Holy See 
and was not the property of the brethren ; and upon this con- 
dition induced Francis to consent that the brethren should 
return to it and live there.-' 

There can be no doubt that Brother Ehas was a consent- 
ing party to the opposition excited by Francis' reassertion of 
the primitive Rule and his literal adhesion to it. But whilst 
others boldly and with less reverence uttered their complaints 
and declared their intentions, Elias had recourse to a more 
subtle diplomacy. In truth he feared to offend Francis. 
Something in his acknowledged leader — perhaps the hohness 
of the saint, perhaps the very fearlessness of the man, maybe 
both quahties — daunted him. Elias's pohcy, grounded at 

ed. Lemmens, pars i. pp. 86-7. Gf. Hilarin do Lucerne, Histoire des Etudes, 
pp. 87-91. 

'The Cardinal was in Bologna in the beginning of August, 1221, when he 
officiated at the funeral of S. Dominic. Acta SS., August i. p. 376. It was 
probably about this time that he made thia public declaration to the citizens 
gf Bologua. 


least in part in reverence for Francis, was to gain his confi- 
dence and be the friend. His reasoning went wholly with 
the dissident ministers but his heart was yet held by a certain 
reverential affection for him whose vicar he was. Moreover 
it may be doubted whether Elias altogether approved of the 
independence of the ministers. It was not in his character 
to tolerate a divided authority : by instinct he was the auto- 
crat ; and though he might go some way with the ministers 
in their demands, he himself would be the master, as the 
ministers were to learn to their cost in the days to come.' 
Elias's policy, therefore, was to temper the more violent 
clamours of the dissidents and to work such changes as he 
thought well under the authority of the Cardinal Protector 
and with a certain deference to Francis' own will. And so it 
came about that this tragedy which was testing the vitality 
of the Order, was less apparent to the multitude of the brethren 
at the time than it is to us who look back. As a body they 
were hardly aware of the clashing of elemental purposes which 
was taking place. They knew that things were changing in 
this or that detail of government and that in some thmgs the 
primitive simplicity was giving way to what they considered 
the demand of circumstance. But the surface of their life was 
but little ruffled. Such betrayals of principle which some of 
the brethren were guilty of, hardly affected the brethren as a 
whole. They were still a joyous company of God's trouba- 
dours : the original idealism was perhaps somewhat abated, 
but enough of it remained to give them a marked distinction 
of character. The exuberant vitality of souls set free was 
still theirs ; they rejoiced in their poverty and were avid for 

' Cf. Ecoleston [ed. Little], pp. 79, 98 ; Salimbene (loo. cit. p. 105) says 
" Frequenter niutabat ministros ne nimis radicati fortius insurgerent contra 
ijosum ". 


adventure for Christ's sake. Perhaps with most of them 
Francis was becoming more of the saint and less of the 
leader ; but that only gave them a greater pride in their 
vocation. One who looked back upon these days with 
wistful reminiscence wrote in his chronicle : "Who can ex- 
press the charity, patience, humility and obedience, and the 
fraternal merriment there was amongst the brethren at that 

Many of the brethren remembered this General Chapter 
not because of the disputes concerning the Kule but because 
of the adventure which marked its close. The Chapter had 
lasted seven days and was about to disperse when Francis be- 
thought him that no provision had been made to send brethren 
to Germany. Accordingly the brethren were recalled. Un- 
able himself to address them because the fatigues of the past 
week had utterly broken down his strength and he could hardly 
speak, Francis sat on the ground and bade Brother Blias ad- 
dress the assembly and call for volunteers to undertake the 
new mission. Elias thus explained the intention of Francis : 
" Brothers, our brother says that there is a certain country, 
Germany, where dwell devout Christians, who as you know 
often pass through our country, with long staves in their 
hands and wearing great boots ; and they sing the praises of 
God and the saints as they go along, perspiring in the heat, 
to visit the tombs of the Apostles. But because when the 
brethren were sent to them once before they were treated 
badly, our brother does not wish to compel any brother to 
go thither again. Yet if any mspired by zeal for God and 
souls, be willing to go, he will give them a like obedience, 
nay, a more willing obedience, than he gives to those who go 
to the infidels beyond the seas. Let those who are willincr 

^ Chron. Jordani, in Anal. Franc, i. no. IC, p. G. 


stand up and draw apart." At once ninety brethren arose 
" offering themselves to death " ; so great was the terror that 
the Germans had struck into the hearts of the brethren by 
their treatment of the first mission. 

There was one brother, however, an Umbrian by birth, 
who was sent somewhat unwillingly, yet happily as it turned 
out. Having listened to the story of the martyrs of Morocco, 
he was bewailing his misfortune in not knowing any of them 
personally. Seeing now the ninety brethren draw apart, he 
looked at them with reverence and with a sense of satisfaction 
that in them he was gazing upon martyrs that were to be : 
for of their fate he had no doubt. Since his infancy he had 
been taught to pray that God would shield his faith from the 
heresies of the Lombards and his body from the ferocity of 
the Germans. But he was not content to look upon the 
martyrs from a distance : he wanted to know each one per- 
sonally so that in after times he might claim acquaintance 
with them. He therefore rose up and went over to them 
and began asking each his name and birthplace. 

Now amongst them was one, a Era Palmerio, a native of 
Apulia. When asked his name, he replied : " My name is 
Palmerio ; " then seizmg his questioner, he added : " And since 
you are here, you too are one of us and must go with us ". 
" Not so," replied the other ; " I am not one of you nor have 
I any desire to go with you." But Palmerio held him fast 
whilst the other brethren were being nominated for the dif- 
ferent provinces. In vain the captive brother protested, 
until he consented to leave his destiny to the decision of 
Brother Elias. But when Elias asked him if he wished to 
go to Germany or not, the brother hesitated : for he had 
been taught to go whither he was sent and not murmur ; 
and now he feared lest he might break this rule. Hesitatingly 


he replied : " I wish neither to go nor not to go ". And 
Elias bade him go. Thus Brother Giordano da Giano was 
sent to Germany.^ He hved many years amongst the 
Germans and at last died amongst them in an honoured old 
age : and in his last years he dictated a chronicle in which 
he set down the story of his coming to Germany and the 
marvellous reverence with which this new mission was received 
there. In this same chronicle Giordano relates that when he 
knew Saint Francis in the flesh, he did not think him a 
perfect saint nor altogether free from human weakness, and 
that only after Francis' canonization did he have a complete 
veneration for him : ^ a candid confession which explains 
much to the generations that have not known Francis in the 

The new mission to Germany was as eminently success- 
ful as the first mission had been a failure. The success 
is to be attributed in the first place to the skilful leadership 
of Csesar of Speyer and to the fam.e he had already acquired 
amongst his countrymen. Not all the ninety brethren who 
offered themselves, were sent on the mission. Cffisar took 
with him only twenty-five : twelve clerics and thirteen lay 

Of these several were Germans ; and amongst the clerics 
were men who were to become eminent in various ways. 
There were Giovanni di Carpine, the future explorer of 
Tartary ; Tliomas of Celano, who was to write the biography 
of Francis ; Brother Barnabas a powerful preacher, besides 
that Giordano of whom we have spoken. They went their 
way, did these missionary friars, in that chivalrous spirit which 
prompted Francis and all true Franciscans, heedless of per- 

1 Citron. Jordmii, in Anal. Franc, i nog. 17, 13, pp. 6-7. 
-Chran. Jordani, in Anal. Franc, no. 59, p. 18. 


sonal discomfort, adapting themselves unmurmuringly and 
courteously to all circumstances ; courageous, venturesome, 
and merry : as Giordano's chronicle quaintly relates. In 
Caesar of Speyer the simplicity of the Franciscan spirit seems 
to have blended well with a trained intellect and a wide 
knowledge of the world ; as it did indeed in so many of the 
brethren of Northern Europe : perhaps it was due to the 
deeper loyalty and less mercurial temperament of the Teutonic 




We come now to events in the history of Francis, which will 
take us for awhile apart from the ministers and all the 
troublous happenings of which they were the cause. This 
chapter will help to remind us that the story of Francis is 
not merely a story of the Friars Minor. These, as he him- 
self said, were his "Knights of the Eound Table," taken 
from the ordinary avocations of the world's life to fulfil the 
quest of the Lord Christ. They were knights-errant, bound 
by their vows of errantry to have no fixed home on the 

Then there were the Lady Clare and her sisters who had 
entered into the bond of this new chivalry, and in their se- 
clusion were guarding the mirror in which the worshipful 
ideal of poverty was faithfully reflected, and keeping ahght 
the sacred fire as all true damosels of chivalry should. 

But there were others in the highways and byways of the 
world, who were true liege-folk to this new order of things. 
They did not abandon their homes nor the common duties 
of domestic life ; they still, most of them, maintained their 
jiosition in society, according to the rank in which they were 
placed. Some of them indeed established themselves in a 
(pertain moral seclusion from the surrounding life in which 
they perforce must keep a foothold ; a few left the world and 
retu'ed into solitary places,' fired by the teaching of Francis, 

' e.g. the recluse Praxedis (vide Oelano, Tract, de Mirac. 181). 


5'et without formally entering his fraternity. This more or 
less informal following of Francis and Clare ^ had grown up 
without any set rule or vow of obedience. Amongst those 
who were influenced by the preaching of the brethren or by 
the life itself which blossomed so fragrantly at the Porziun- 
cola and San Damiano and other places, were some who drew 
closer in spirit than others to the fraternity, and sought to 
walk more directly by the laws of its life ; shunning need- 
less comfort or luxury of food and dress ; purposing to live 
chastely in body and mind, and making the poor and luckless 
the objects of their especial care. 

Thus there came into being a group of devoted followers 
of Francis and Clare who were not strictly speaking mem- 
bers of the fraternity, and yet were bound to it by a sense of 
spiritual kinship.'^ Amongst the earliest of these informal 
disciples were the Lord Orlando of Chiusi, who gave Monte 
Alvernia for the use of the brethren, and the Lady Giacoma 

1 The author of the legend of St. Clave speaks ol the numbers of women 
who sought to imitate her example in their own homes. Cf. Leg. S. Clares, 
10 b ; Mrs. Balfour, Life and Legend, p. 50 ; F. Paschal Robinson, Life of 
St. Clare, p. 19. 

^I cannot accept unreservedly the conclusions of M. Sabatier and P. 
Mandonnet, O.P., that in the beginning of the Franciscan fraternity these 
informal disciples who afterwards formed the nucleus of the Third Order, 
were considered members of the fraternity in the same sense as the friars and 
the sisters of San Damiano. It seems to me that P. Mandonnet seeks to 
prove too much {vide Les Origines de L'Ordo de Pcenitentia), and that his 
conclusion is not consistent with the fact that Francis obta,ined a formal 
Rule from Innocent III in 1209 or 1210, according to which he and the 
brethren were to live. It is doubtless true that the members who professed 
this Rule had at first but the simplest organization, which, however, gradu- 
ally became more definite. But there is no evidence that people professing 
this Rule separated, one group forming the First Order and another the 
Third. And that is what P. Mandonnet must prove to maintain his thesis. 

21 * 


di Settesoli of Eome. Of Orlando we have already spoken. ' 
He remained a most attached friend of the fraternity, glad 
to consider himself its servitor whenever the opportunity 
was given him to do service either to Francis himself or the 
other brethren. 

The Lady Giacoma''' was widow of Gratiano Frangipani, 
the noble Koman patrician whose genealogy went back to the 
days of myth. She had sought counsel of Francis during his 
visit to Eome in 1212 ; ^ and from that time looked to him as 
her spiritual guide. At the death of her husband she was 
left guardian of her two infant sons and administrator of the 
family estates. Still very young, and possessed of ample 
wealth, life lay before her to choose as she would, when in 
the first days of her widowhood, as it seems, she fell under 
the influence of Francis, and determined to devote herself to 
the education of her sons and the service of the poor and the 
worship of God. One would wish to know more of the Lady 
Giacoma than the chroniclers have told us ; for this reason 
that, excepting Clare, she was the only woman in whose 
presence Francis relaxed the strict reserve with which he 
guarded his chivalrous purity,* and she was one of the very 
few women to whom he ever gave a token of friendship. 
That token was a lamb which he had perhaps rescued from 

' Vide supra, p. 189. 

'•^ Concerning the Lady Giacoma, vide P. Edouard d'Alencon, Friie Jac- 
queline; M Sabatier, Spec. I'crfccf, Etude speciale du Chapitre, 112, -pp. 27S-1. 
She is buried in the lower church of the basilica of San Francesco at Assisi 
near the higli altar. A fresco represents her in the habit of a tertiary, and 
there is this inscription: " Hicjacet Jacoba sancta nobilisque romana." 

^Wadding, Annales, ad an. 1212. This date is generally accepted by 
Francis' biographers. 

' Tt is generally held that Francis referred to Glare and the Lady Giacoma 
when he told a brother that he knew the faces of only two women. Cf. II 
Celano, 112. I have purposely spoken of Francis' " chivalrous purity," because 

The thied oedee 325 

the shambles.^ A woman of strong character was the Lady 
Giacoma, the manifest daughter of a fearless, determined 
race.^ In characteristic fashion Francis was wont to style 
her " Canticle of Brother Giacoma ". 

Now neither the Lord Orlando nor the Lady Giacoma 
could part with their feudal possessions, which were family 
and not personal estates : yet the spirit of poverty had caught 
their hearts, and this was shown not only in their greater 
charity towards the poor but in their mental attitude towards 
the property they administered and which they held in trust 
from God for the common good, seeking to exercise their 
rights with justice towards others, with regard to peace with 
their neighbours and without personal avarice.' That was 
in fact the teaching of Francis in regard to the holding of 
property.^ Personal goods which were wholly at one's own 
disposal he taught those who put themselves under his especial 
guidance, to distribute to the poor or to the Church, except 
what they needed for their own modest sustenance. He 

I have no doubt that in this as in aught else, he was influenced by the laws 
of romantic chivalry, 

^ Leg. Major, viii. 7, cf. ibid. 6. Nearly all the early biographers mention 
St. Francis' friendship with the Lady Giacoma ; vide Celano, Tract, de Mirac. 
37-9; Leg. Maj. ui supra; Spec. Perfect, cap. 112; Bernard de Besse, Lib. 
de laudibus, cap. 3. 

2 She was of Norman blood and of one of those Norman families which 
had gained their footing in Italy with the sword. Cf. P. Bdouard d'Alenoon, 
op. cit., p. 11. 

2 In 1217 the Lady Giacoma, on behalf of herself and her sons, who were 
minors, made a deed renouncing their claims to property which had been for 
some time in dispute at law (cf. Edouard d'Alenijon, Fr&e Jacgtieline, pp. 
14-16; and Appendice I, pp. 37-8). P. Edouard suggests that this "act of 
peace " was due to the influence of Francis. We know that the later Rule of 
the tertiaries inculcated that they should avoid legal litigation (cf. Capestrano 
Kule, cap. x. and cap. xiii. ; and the Rule of Nicholas IV, cap. xyii.) 

* Of. Epistola I. Opuscula, p. 87 seq. 


would not have them amass wealth/ which was the cause of 
distraction from spiritual things, and of feuds and ill-will 
with one's neighbours. We may be sure, too, that these 
followers of Francis would not be drawn into the family 
rivalries and civic contentions, against which Francis pleaded 
so vehemently. 

But if we would find the more detailed rule by which 
their lives were ordered, we shall undoubtedly discover it in the 
" Letter to all Christians," which Francis wrote in the early 
years of his apostolate.'- This letter was not indeed written 
with the intention of making a special following for the 
fraternity, still less was it designed as a rule of life for any 
particular association. It was Francis' proclamation to the 
Christian world, calling upon all people, whether clerics or 
laics, men or women, religious or seculars, to lead a more 
perfect Christian life, as he therein set forth. If it became 
in some sort the special charter of spiritual perfection for 
those who now gathered more closely to the fraternity, it was 
probably because these took it as the expression of Francis' 
mind and made it their rule of life.' 

' Cf. Bernard do Besse {op. cit. p. 70) : " Parochiali cuidam sacerdoti 
dUenti tihi quod vellet stius retenta taincn ecclesia, frater esse, data vividi Vi- 
vendi et induendi modo, diciiur indixisse , ut annuatim collect is ecclesiaefruclibus, 
daret firo Deo quod dc pi'aiteritis supcresset ". All the early tertiaries were 
accustomed thus to distribute their superfluous goods. We can only conclude 
that it was a traditional practice derived from Francis' teaching. 

^Epist. 1., in Opuscula S.P.F. (Quaraochi), p. 87; F. Paschal Robin- 
son, O.P.M., Writings of St. Francis, pp. 98-108. Boehmer (Analeklen, p. 49) 
publishes this letter under the title, Opusculum Cmnmonitorium, which is in- 
deed a more illuminative title. According to Wadding {Ayinales, ad an. 1213) 
it was written in 1213; Fr. Paschal Robinson (I.e.) prefers the date 1215. 

■' On the other hand, however, Francis may have been impelled to set 
forth in writing this r^sum^ of his teaching by the demand of the people for 
some rule of a more perfect Christian life. According to the Actus, cap. 16, 
Francis first " thought to institute the Third Order " during that evangelisin" 


The letter opens with the statement that Francis, on 
account of sickness and the weakness of his body, is unable 
to visit every one ; therefore since he is "the servant of all 
and is bound to serve all and minister to them the sweet- 
smelhng words of his Lord," he proposes to write this 
messenger-letter : 

"The Word of the Father, so worthy, so holy, and so 
glorious, whose coming from heaven the Most High Father 
made known by his holy Archangel Gabriel to the holy and 
glorious Virgin Mary, from her womb took true flesh of our 
humanity and frailty. And He being rich above all, willed 
nevertheless, both He and His most blessed Mother, to choose 
poverty." Having struck the keynote of his message, Francis 
then proceeds to urge the reception of the sacrament of the 
Holy Eucharist. " Smce the Divine Word offered Himself on 
the cross a sacrifice for us, it is the Father's Will that all of 
us be saved through Him and that we receive Him with a 
pure heart and chaste body ". He then continues : " But few 
are they who wish to receive Him and be saved by Him, 
although His yoke is sweet and His burden light. They who 
will not taste how sweet the Lord is, and love the darkness 
more than the light ; who will not fulfil the commandments 
of God, they are accursed ; of them it is said by the prophet : 
They are cursed who decline from Thy commandments. But 
how happy and blessed are they who love the Lord and do 
as the Lord Himself says in the Gospel : Thou shalt love the 

tour lie made after receiving the message from Glare and Sylvester {vide 
supra, p. 161), and he may have had this or some such thought in mind when 
he vprote the letter; though the phrase, " to institute the Third Order," repre- 
sents the actual outcome of the informal following of the fraternity rather 
than the definite purpose of Francis. Francis was not then thinking of three 
Orders, but of the extension of the kingdom of God of which the friars were 
the apostles. 


Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul, 
and thy neighbour as thyself. Let us therefore love God and 
adore Him with a pure heart and a pure mind, because He 
Himself seeking this above all things, says : The true adorers 
shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For all who 
adore Him must adore Him in the spirit of truth. And let 
us say to Him praises and prayers both day and night, saying : 
Our Father, Who art in heaven ; because we ought always 
to pi'ay and not to faint." 

If the announcement of the coming of Jesus Christ in a 
chosen poverty, is the keynote of Francis' message, this in- 
sistence upon adoring God in spirit and in truth, is its charac- 
teristic complement. But he then goes on to lay down the 
positive laws, so to speak, of the Christian life. " We must 
indeed confess all our sins to a priest and receive from him 
the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Moreover let 
us bring forth fruits worthy of penance ; and let us love our 
neighbours as ourselves : but if anyone will not or cannot ' 
love his neighbours as himself, at least let him bring upon 
them no evil but rather let him do them good. Let those 
who have received the power of judging others, exercise 
judgment with mercy, even as they themselves wish to obtain 
mercy from the Lord : for let judgment without mercy be 
done to him who doth not mercy. Let us then have charity 
and humility and let us give alms because these wash the 
soul from the foulness of sin : for men lose all that they leave 
behind in this world, but they carry with them the reward 
of charity and the alms which they gave, for which they will 
receive from the Lord a recompense and worthy remunera- 
tion. We must also fast and abstain from vices and sins and 
from superfluity of food and drink ; and be Catholics. We 

^ Tue Asaisi codex omita the words "or cannot". 


must too visit churches frequently and reverence the clergy, 
not so much because of themselves if they are sinners but 
because of their ministering of the most holy body and blood 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, which they sacrifice on the altar 
and receive and administer to others. And let us all know 
for certain that no man can be saved except by the blood of 
our Lord Jesus Christ and by the holy words of the Lord 
which the clergy say and announce and administer and which 
they alone and no others must administer. But religious 
especially, who have renounced the world, are bound to do 
more and greater things but not to leave the other undone. 

" We must hold in hatred our bodies with their vices and 
sins, because our Lord says in the Gospel : All vices and sins 
go forth from the heart. We must love our enemies and do 
good to those who hate us. We must observe the precepts and 
counsels of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must also deny our- 
selves and put our bodies under the yoke of servitude and 
holy obedience as each one has promised to the Lord. And 
no man shall be bound by obedience to obey any one in that 
where a sin or fault is committed. 

" But he to whom authority is entrusted and who is held 
to be the greater, let him be as the lesser and as the servant 
of the other brothers, and to each of his brothers let him 
show and have the mercy which he would wish to be shown 
to himself were he in a like case. Nor let him be angry with 
the brother because of the brother's fault, but with all patience 
and humility let him kindly teach and encourage him. 

" We must not be wise and priadent according to the flesh, 
but rather we must be simple, humble and pure. And let us 
hold our bodies in dishonour and contempt, because through 
our own fault we are all wretched and corrupt, foul and 
worms, as the Lord says by the prophet : ' I am a worm and 


no man, the reproach of men and the outcast of the people . 
And we must never desire to be above others, but rather we 
must be servants and subject to every human creature for 
God's sake. And all who shall do such things and persevere 
to the end, upon them the spirit of the Lord shall rest, and 
He will make in them His dwelling-place and His abode, 
and they will be children of the heavenly Father whose works 
they do, and they are the spouses, brothers and mothers of 
our Lord Jesus Christ. We are His spouses when by the 
Holy Spirit the faithful soul is wedded to Jesus Christ ; we 
are His brothers when we do the will of His Father who is 
in heaven ; we are His mothers when we bear Him in our 
heart and bodj' by love and a pure and sincere conscience, 
and bring Him forth by holy work which ought to shine as 
an example to others. how glorious and holy and gi'eat it 
is to have a Father in heaven ! how holy, fair and lovable 
to have a spouse in heaven ! how holy and how beloved, 
pleasing and humble, peaceful and sweet and lovable and 
above all things desirable, to have such a Brother who laid 
down His life for His sheep and prayed for us to the Father, 
saying: Holy Father, keep them in Thy Name, whom Thou 
hast given Me." ' 

Having thus set forth the law of the Christian life, Fran- 
cis proceeds with a passionate exhortation to praise God and 
to avoid the judgment to come, with a special reference to 
the vice of avarice : it is such an exhortation as he must 
oftentimes have given utterance to in his sermons. Finally 
he begs that all will receive this writing, and that those who 
cannot read, will have it read to them. " And all, both men 

1 Here follows a long quotation from our Lord'g prayer, John xvil. 6-24. 
The reader will have noticed that the letter is replete with Gospel phrases 
deftly woven into the text. 

The thied oedee 33I 

and women, who shall receive these things kindly and under- 
stand and send them to others for an example, if they per- 
severe in them unto the end, may the Father and the Son 
and the Holy Ghost bless them. Amen." ^ 

This letter undoubtedly puts into words the manner of 
life which Francis taught all his disciples, whether in the 
more constrained enclosure of the religious vows or in the 
broader circle of the world. Ic was the general formulary 
of the whole Franciscan life. In practice it would be inter- 
preted by those living in the world to demand a closer or more 
distant approximation to the observances of the brethren 
themselves, according to the degree of their fervour or the 
conditions of their state. But the letter was to them in very 
fact a rule of life to which they sought to conform their con- 
duct. And thus there grew up around the fraternity a sort 
of outer circle of Franciscan penitents who though not bound 
by the vows of the fraternity, were yet of one mind and heart 
with it in its aspiration towards the Gospel observance which 
Francis preached. In their attachment to the teaching of 
Francis they became in a marked degree separated in thought 
and conduct from the world around them. The poverty of 
the brethren was the symbol of their desire as the market- 
place and the feudal fortress were the symbols of other folk's 
ambitions. They did not at first nor for some years con- 
stitute a separate organization from the brethren themselves : 
in the larger sense they were considered members of the fra- 
ternity, even as Clare and her sisters were. 

It was probably during Francis' absence in the East that 
Cardinal Ugolino definitely conceived the plan of giving these 
"secular" penitents a Eule and organization distinct from 

1 This ending is oliaracteristio. Vide Eegula i ; Tesiamentum S. Franc. ; 
also Epistolsa ii. et IV., i. Opuscula, pp. 62, 82, 107, 112. 


that of the brethren. May be, in the troubles which followed 
upon the attempt of the Vicars to establish a more monastic 
regime, some of these penitents themselves had begun to 
draw together into some sort of defensive league to assert 
their claim to be considered followers of Francis and to be 
directed by the brethren, as they did many times in the years 
that followed Francis' death. ^ Or it may be that some of the 
brethren themselves had already begun to form bodies of 
penitents under their own personal authority, as John de 
Compello did with his lepers.^ If anything of this sort did 
occur, ^ it would be further reason to the Cardinal's mind, for 
carrying out his scheme at once ; but in all likelihood Ugo- 
lino had brought the idea of a vast fraternity of " lay peni- 
tents," such as he had now conceived, back vdth him from 
his legatine journeys in Lombardy. For at this time and for 
some years past, that extensive province had been the home 
of a similar fraternity, whose Eule, approved by Pope Inno- 
cent III in 1201, presented itself to the Cardinal as the basis 
of a Rule for the new fraternity he was contemplating. 

The lluiniliati, as these Lombard penitents were named, 
are one of the most interesting embodiments of the pre- 

' The " conventual " party amongst the friars were always opposed to any 
formal dependence of the Third Order on the First ; whereas the " spirituals " 
were favourable to a closer alliance. Of. Mandonnet : Les Regies, in Opuscules 
Crit. Hist., fasc. iv. p. 181 seq. 

2 The prohibition in the Rule of 1221, chap. 12 : " Et nulla, penitus mulier 
ah aliquo fratri recipiatur ad obedientiam, sad dato sili consilio spirituali, sili 
valuer it agaf 2}(B)iitentiam," ■perheips -points to some such abuse; though more 
likely it was aimed at the common mediaeval custom of exactin" oaths of 
obedience from one's pupils or penitents. 

2 As Ed. Lempp conjectures, vide Frire Elie, p. 42. But John de Com- 
pello's leper-community seem to have been quite a distinct and fanatical 
attempt to form a fraternity and not a development of the Franciscan peni- 
tent movement. He may, however, have taken the idea from some inchoate 
penitent congregation or community. 


Franciscan penitential movement.'' They were settled in 
Lombardy towards the end of the twelfth century. How they 
came into being it is impossible to tell with any certainty. 

One tradition traces their origin to some Milanese nobles 
who fled to Germany a century earlier. These nobles, taking 
to heart the lesson of adversity, had in their exile turned 
from secular politics to the consideration of their soul's 
welfare. Compelled by the loss of their property to live 
poorly and by the labour of their hands, they took to weaving 
and established amongst themselves a common life, sharing 
with each other the profits of their trade and giving gener- 
ously to the poor. They met at regular times for rehgious 
exercises and were under the authority of a "minister" 
chosen by themselves. They created in fact a religious 
communism. But they were not " religious " in the ordinary 
use of the word; they could marry and live in their own 
houses. When at length they were at liberty to return to 
Milan, they took back with them this manner of life into 
their own country. 

Whatever may be the value of this tradition, certain it is 
that when Innocent HI ascended the Papal throne, the Hu- 
miliati were well established throughout Milanese territory, 
and held the woollen trade largely in their hands. They had 
their meeting-places where they met both to transact business 
and for religious exercises.- Not all of them, however, were 
woollen-workers, but all had a trade of some sort. They 
dressed simply in a habit of grey woollen stuff. 

^ Concerning the Humiliati cf. Tirabosohi, Vetera Humiliatoruin Monu- 
nienta ; BoUaud, Acta SS. Sept. vol. vii, p. 320 seq. Jacques de Vitry speaks 
of them in his well-known letter of 1216, and in his Historia OccidentaUs 
(Doula), pp. 334-7. 

^ These meeting-places were styled conienia oi' parlatoiia: hence the Hu- 
miliati were known also as Fratrei de cnnvenin. 

334 'life of ST. FBANCIS OF ASSISI 

By the end of the twelfth century the Humihati had thrown 
out two offshoots of a monastic character. One of these 
was an institute of men and women who added to the com- 
mon observances of the fraternity, the three vows of religion ; 
the other was an institute of priests who lived in community.' 
The Eule approved by Pope Innocent in 1201, belongs 
however to the original lay-fraternity : ^ and it was this which 
Cardinal Ugolino was to take as the basis of the Eule he 
caused to l)e written for the new fraternities of lay-penitents. 
The Eule of 1201 set before its adherents the imitation of 
Jesus Christ m His humility and meekness, as their leading 
purpose. Hence the Humiliati were to be patient in adver- 
sity, to love God and their neighbour, even their enemy, and 
to do unto others as they would be done by. They were to 
make good any injury they might happen to inflict on any 
one. They must obey the prelates of the Church. But the 
chief interest in this Eule is in those specific regulations 
which were set down with a view to the prevalent evils of the 
time. The married members were to be faithful to the 
marriage-vow, nor were husbands and wives to separate, 
" save on account of fornication ". No member was to pos- 
sess tithes " since it is in nowise lawful for lay people to hold 
tithes," and all tithes and first-fruits were to be delivered up 
to the Church. Further, out of their goods and fruits which 
remained to them after the paj'ment of their tithes, they were 

' The organizer of the priest-community of Humiliati was St. John of 
Meda {vide Acta SS. loc. oit.). It is noteworthy that afterwards this priest- 
community came to be called the " First Order of Humiliati," though a later 
organization than the other two, in point of time. Similarly the monastic 
communities of nren and women came to be known as the Second Order, 
and then the original foundation was styled the Third Order of Humiliati. 

2 Vide Episl. Innoc. iii, " Incumbit vohis," of 7 June, 1201, in Tiraboschi, 
vol. ir. pp. 128-34 ; Potthast, lil6. 


to give alms to the poor and all superfluity of goods that 
remained to them after they had made provision for their own 
frugal sustenance, were to be distributed to the poor. As to 
their clothing, they were to dress neither too finely nor squa- 
lidly, "since neither an affected squalor nor a too careful 
cleanliness, befit a Christian ". They were to fast at certain 
times and to observe the canonical hours of prayer, saying 
for each hour seven Paters in honour of the gifts of the Holy 
Ghost. They must provide for the sick brothers and sisters, 
and assist at the burial when any brother or sister died. 
Finally they were to assemble every Sunday in some fitting 
place " where one or several of the brethren of approved faith 
and knowledge of religion, and powerful in deed as well as in 
word, shall by licence of the diocesan bishop, set forth words 
of exhortation to those assembled to hear the word of God, 
admonishing and persuading them to live good lives and do 
works of piety : but so that they do not speak of the articles 
of the Faith and the sacraments of the Church "} Such was 
the original Eule of the Humiliati as approved by the Holy See. 
But Pope Innocent almost immediately imposed yet 
another precept : the Humiliati were not to take unnecessary 
oaths. ^ Colourless as this precept might seem to us, it yet 
became one of the farthest reaching of the penitential prin- 
ciples in the years to come : for it was definitely aimed at the 

'That is, they were " to preach penance " or give moral discourses, but not 
to expound theology. Only " preachers " properly so-called could expound 
theology. The permission given to the Humiliati wag the same as that given to 
Francis when Innocent III commissioned him to preach penance ; only that 
Francis' commission was more widely extended. ITe could preach penance 
" through the whole world " and not merely at the meetings o£ the brethren. 
The Franciscan tertiary Eule, as we shall see, gave to the ministers of the 
tertiaries a privilege exactly similar to that given to the Humiliati, 

^Tiraboschi, vol. IX. pp. 135-8 ; Potthast, 1415. 


feudal oath which bound a man to take the part of his feudal 
lord or the commune in any quarrel, however unjust or arbi- 
trary. And in fact the refusal of the Humiliati to take the 
feudal oath soon brought them into collision with the civic 
authorities, and the persecution to which they were subjected 
caused Innocent in 1214 to address a sharp remonstrance to 
the magistrates and governors of Lombardy.i This obligation 
imposed on the Lombard penitents was a stroke of genius : 
it became a most powerful weapon in the hands of the Church 
in dealing both with turbulent civic governments and with 
the Empire itself ; and one is not surprised that both imperial 
governors and city magistrates refused to recognize it and 
sought to penalize those who acted upon it.^ 

But the Humiliati, although sanctioned by the Church, 
were not always above suspicion with the ecclesiastical au- 
thorities ; ' some of them indeed went over to the heretics.^ 
And like all the earlier penitential movements, they were 
tainted with a gloomy puritanism. Somehow they failed to 
grasp the beauty and liberty of the Gospel : there was no 
joyous song in their religion ; ^ and for that reason they could 
never have captured the new spirit of the age with its thu'st 
for life and freedom. To the end they would remain a mere 
provincial fraternitj', or a religious sect. 

Oftentimes in his observant way, Cardinal UgoHno must 
have contrasted the Lombard fraternity with the Umbrian ; 
and as we have said, it was probably from Lombardy that he 
brought lack to Rome the idea of a new laj'-fraternity, such 

iTiraboschi, vol. ii. p. 156; Potthast, 4944. 

-Thus they imposed a war-tax on those who refused to take up arms at 
their bidding. Vide infra, p. 342. 

■' Of. Episf. Honorii III, in Tirabosohi, vol. i. p. 77. 

■• Chron. Burcfiar.A, in Mon Germ. Hist. Script, torn, xxiii. p 376 

^ Cf. Gebhardt, L' Italic ^Tystiq^ue- pp. 34-5. 

The Tried oedee 337 

as he proposed to Francis when they met during the winter 
of 1220-1221.1 

Unfortunately the original Eule of the Order of Penance, 
as the new fraternity was named, which the Cardmal himself 
composed in consultation with Francis ^ is at present lost, if 
indeed it is not altogether destroyed ; and the earhest version 
of it known to us, dates only from 1228, seven years after the 
institution of the fraternity,^ and by that time it is probable 
some of the original precepts were modified. As it has come 
down to us, the Eule is not an inspiring document unless 
you read it in its relationship to the circumstances of the 
age and the religious fervour which made it possible. It 

', Mariano of Florence states that the Rule of the Third Order was written 
in 1220 by Francis and Ugolino whilst they were together at Florence. But 
it is proved that Ugolino was not at Florence in 1220. Of. Archiv. Franc. 
Hist. an. ii. faso. i. p. 96. 

^The decisive part taken by Card. Ugolino in the institution of the Third 
Order is not concealed in contemporary chronicles. The author of the Vita 
Gregorii IX in Muratori, Berum ItaJ. Script, torn iii. p. 575, says: " Pccnit- 
entium Fratrum et Dominarum inclusarum novos institutt ordines et ad suinmum 
usque provexit. Minorum etiam ordinem intra initia sub limite incerto vagan- 
temnovcB regulce traditione direxit et inforviavit informem." 

Ugolino, therefore, according to this author, instituted the two orders of 
Enclosed Ladies (Poor Clares) and of the Brethren of Penance (tertiaries) but 
only directed the organizing of the Friars Minor. The distinction between 
the two parts played by the Cardinal as institutor and director is noteworthy. 
Ugolino was not merely the adviser of Francis in the composing of the Eule 
of the Third Order, no more than in the composing of the Ugoline Constitutions 
for the Poor Ladies : he was in both cases the accredited author. Bernard 
de Besse, writing sometime later, also says that Cardinal Ugolino wrote the 
Eule of the Third Order in consulation with Francis. 

His words are : " In regulis seu vivendi formis ordinis istorum dictandis 
sacrcB memoricB dominus papa Gregorius in minori adhuc officio constitutus, beato 
Francisco intima familiaritate conjunctus, devote supplebat, gu-od virosancto m 
dicta?idi scientia deerat. " {Lib. de Laudibus, ed. Hilarin a Lucerna, p. 76.) 

^ This is the " Capestrano " Eule, vide Appendix III, infra. 



is a code of legal constitutions clear-cut and calmly thought 
out, such as an ecclesiastical lawyer might deal with in 
court. It presents none of the glowing idealism of the 
early Franciscan days ; it has not even the evangelical fer- 
vour which we find in Pope Innocent's Eule for the HumiH- 
ati ; it is simply a Kule for external conduct. The brothers 
and sisters are bound to an austere simplicity in dress ; the 
price and texture of their garments are rigidly fixed after the 
manner of mediaeval sumptuary enactments. They must 
observe certain fasts and abstinences and recite a number of 
Paters at the canonical hours, unless they are able to read 
the psalter, when they must recite the psalms according to 
the use of the Papal Court or at least an equal number of 
psalms. They are to shun the banquets and stage-plays 
which were an immoral feature in the public life of the time ; 
to confess their sins and receive Holy Communion three times 
in the year; to make good neglected tithes and pay future 
tithes faithfully. They must not carry arms ; and except 
in certain cases approved by the Sovereign Pontiff, they 
must not take the legal oaths. They are not to have recourse 
to secular tribunals for litigation amongst themselves, and 
they are bound to make their will, if they have property, 
within three months after their profession in the fraternity. 
Before being admitted to the fraternity the novices must pay 
their debts : they must also be at peace with their neighbours. 
No one suspected of heresy might be received unless he 
had first been acquitted in the bishop's court ; and no married 
woman might be admitted except with the consent of her 
husband. Should any brother be guilty of scandal and fail 
to make reparation he must be expelled from the fraternity 
and denounced to the magistrate or governor of the 


Now in the political and social conditions of the early 
thirteenth century, these regulations meant a throwing down 
of the gauntlet by the Church against established conven- 
tions. They struck directly at the monstrous growth of 
luxurious habits in food and dress as well as at the inordinate 
love of pleasure which drew men and women to tourney and 
pageant and public revel, to the neglect of religion and the 
serious business of life, and they were calculated to strike a 
mortal blow to the degenerate feudal conception of society 
which bound men by oath to fight for their party whether 
the cause be just or unjust. So far the Eule bears the im- 
press of Cardinal Ugolino's statesmanship : it was designed 
to bring the widespread religious enthusiasm created by 
Francis, to bear upon the actual social and political abuses 
which were arming the world against the Church and the 
Gospel. One seeks in vain throughout the Eule as we now 
have it, for any expression of the more universal Franciscan 
message as Francis himself delivered it ; just as we seek in 
vain for the essential Franciscan life in the Constitutions the 
Cardinal gave to the Sisters of St. Clare. 

But as in the case of the Poor Ladies the Ugoline Con- 
stitutions never represented the whole intent of their voca- 
tion nor the spirit in which they lived, so was it with the 
new fraternity of penitents. Behind the Cardinal was 
Francis, and his word was the fuller Eule by which they 
ordered their lives : and to this law the Cardinal himself 
bowed in affectionate reverence if not with entire conviction. 
And so in the lives of the first penitents we find the same 
love of poverty and the same exuberant love of their fellow- 
men who were in sorrow or need, as make the story of the 
first friars so spiritually exhilarating. Thus it was the re- 
cognized law of the fraternity — whether inserted in the 



original Kule or merely an unwritten law, we cannot say — 
that the penitents should distribute every year amongst the 
poor, what remained over and above their yearly income 
after their own needs were provided for.i Many on entering 
the fraternity at once disbursed whatever property they did 
not need for their own sustenance. They took to nursing 
the sick-poor either in the poor man's home or in hospitals. 
Thus they spent their lives in emulation of the life of the 
Porziuncola, as far as each one might. 

The new fraternity grew rapidly : throughout all Italy 
within a few years local congregations were established and 
the penitents became a social force to be reckoned with by 
the secular power. Their very dress was a challenge to the 
worldhness around them : they might not wear silk nor 
coloured garments ; their furs were simple lamb-skin ; the 
open flowing sleeve was forbidden them." 

They were, moreover, a religious corporation and as such 
directly subject to the ecclesiastical courts and not to the 
secular. The magistrates of the commune or the governors 
of cities and districts, had no right to enforce upon them 
public offices or burdens wliich contravened the letter or 
purpose of their profession. Hence they could not be forced 
legally to take up arms at the bidding of the secular power 
nor to take civic office. 

They were a body apart, just as monks and nuns were. 
And so wherever a congregation of the penitents was estab- 
lished the secular authorities found themselves faced by a 

1 The bull " Detestanda" of 30 March, 1228, mentiong this as one of the 
matters in whioh the penitents were hindered by the civic authorities (cf. 
Sbaralea, Bull. i. pp. 39-40). 

^Regula Antiqua. cap. i. The rule concerning dress, however, was open 
to a wide interpretation according to the ranlc of the person or the customs of 
the place, especially in the case of married women, 


body of citizens who were legally protected by the law of the 
Church — which was co-ordinate with the law of the empire 
and the commune — in their withdrawal from secular affairs.' 
The magistrates and governors protested as they had already 
protested in the case of the Humiliati, and endeavoured to 
withstand the claims of the new fraternity. But the Church 
met their opposition not merely on legal grounds, but on 
moral grounds. The penitents were men of peace according 
to the Gospel, and might not therefore be forced to take part 
in feuds and wars which were mostly waged in opposition to 
all Christian principle and the common good of Christendom. 
They were again men who put the claims of justice and 
Christian charity before all other earthly considerations, and 
could not therefore be bound by the secular power to as- 
sume public offices which were notoriously held by prac- 
tices of corruption and party favour,^ nor could they be forced 
to support the system of usury and dishonest trade with 
which industrial enterprise was generally interwoven.^ 

' The first intervention of the Holy See on behalf of the new penitents 
was on 16 December, 1221, when Honorius III addressed a letter " Significa- 
tum nobis" to the Bishop of Rimini, ordering him to protect the penitents of 
Faenza and the neighbourhood against the magistrates. Of. Sbaralea, Bull. 
I. p. 8. 

^Humbert de Romania, the Master-General of the Friars Preachers, says 
the penitents refused " offices to which sin attached". Cf. Sbaralea, Bull. i. 
p. 142, note e. 

3 Cf. bulls " Significatum est," ut supra : " Nimis patenter," of 25 June, 
1227 (Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 30) ' Detestanda," of March, 1228 (ihid. pp. 39-40) ; 
" Nimis patenter," of 5 April, 1231 {ibid. p. 71) ; " Ne is qui bonis," of 15 
March, 1232 {ibid. p. 99) ; " Vt cum majori," of 21 November, 1234 {ibid. p. 
142). According to these bulls the penitents were freed from taking oaths 
except such as were necessary for the Faith, the Church and the making of 
wills; they were not to be compelled to take part iu military service; nor to 
pay the special war-taxes imposed on those who did not bear arms ; nor to 
accept public offices, and they were not to be hindered from distributing 
their superfluous wealth to the poor. 


The commune had used its power to enmesh the mdi- 
vidual in all manner of unchristian practice : the Church re- 
plied by withdrawing the individual who aspired to a more 
Christian hfe, from the commune's jurisdiction in the matters 
which affected his Christian profession. ^ Thus there arose in 
many places a new civic struggle between the partisans of the 
established order of feud and rapine and the partisans of the 
idea of peace and neighbourly service. Of the eventual de- 
velopments of the fraternity of penance and how it became the 
support of the Papacy in its struggle with the Empire, this is 
not the place to tell the story ; we are but concerned with 
its origins and its relationship with Francis. As we have seen, 
it was in part the creation of Cardinal Ugolino and as 
such belongs to the general history of the Holy See in the 
thirteenth century ; nevertheless it was a true outcome of 
the Franciscan revival of Faith and but for Francis it could 
hardly have come into being. 

The first penitent congregation was established in Flor- 
ence, probably at the direct instigation of the Cardinal him- 

The penitents, however, did not always refuse to pay the war-tax when it 
was for the defence of thoir country. Thus Blessed Peter of Siena (died 1289) 
insisted on paying the war-tax though in view of his heing a penitent, the ma- 
gistrates were unwilling to accept it. " This money," he said, " belongs to 
my country when it is needed for its defence " (of. Wadding, Annahs, ad an. 

'The authority claimed by the Italian commune over the individual left 
him but little liberty of action even in the most intimate concerns of personal 
life. Hi? private life was regulated by consular decree. His clothes, dwel- 
ling-place, even the trees he might plant in his garden were thus fixed. As 
Emile Gebhardt remarks : " La ciU italienne n'est, en ejfet, une amvre de 
liberU el d'kjaliti qiCen apparence. La commuiiaut-i y surveille ct y entrave 
I'individu, car le.< franchises de Vassocialion repablicaino outpour garantie Vabdi- 
cahcm de toute volonU personnelle " (L'ltalie Mystique, \). 21). The ecclesias- 
tical jurisdiction of the Middle Ages was, at least in the iirst instance sup- 
ported by public opinion as an escape from this secular tyranny. 


self ; -^ and it is noteworthy as showing the spirit in which the 
fraternity v/as nurtured : for the Florentine penitents at once 
estabhshed a hospital in which they themselves served the 
sick poor.^ And in fact whatever may have been the political 
and social influence of the new fraternity of penance, its chief 
glory is in that subUme spirit of loving compassion and simple 
unworldliness which runs through the story of its beginnings. 
A typical Franciscan penitent was Saint Elizabeth of Hun- 
gary, who had the sick-poor removed from their squalid huts 
and conveyed to her castle on the Wartburg, where she 
nursed them herself with sisterly care; and who, when re- 
leased from the cares of State, renounced the pomp and con- 
ventions of Court life and went to live in a cottage, working 
with her hands as the honest poor must work for their bread. 
In after years men fondly recited the story how her husband, 
the Duke of Thuringia, found red and white roses in her 
mantle when he was searching for the bread which he knew 
she was secretly carrying to the poor. Those roses are at 
least symbolical of the sweet charity which made all her 
menial services for the poor a spring of artless joy. And that 
same sweet charity lies like a golden haze upon the stories of 
all the first Franciscan penitents. 

Thus, as an instance, take the story of the merchant 
Luchesio, who tradition says was the first penitent received 

' Slariano of Florence saya the Florentine congregation was established 
on 20 May, 1221. He may have had access to documents in the city archives 
which are unknown to us. Of. Bartholi, Tract, de Indtdgentia, ed. Sabatier, 
Appendice, pp. 160-1 ; Ccmipendium Ghron. FF. Min. in Archiv. Franc. Hist. 
an. II. fasc. i. p. 98. Cardinal Ugolino and Francis were in Florence in April, 
1221. Of. Bob. Davidsohn, Geschichte von Florenz, II, Band i. pp. 125-9. 

2 Of. Wadding, Annales, ad an. 1221 ; Sbaralea, Bull. ii. p. 293. The 
hospital stood first in the piazza of Santa Maria Novella ; it was afterwards 
transferred to the Church of San Martino, whence the Florentine penitents 
became known as the Brothers and Sisters of San Martino. 


into the fraternity. When Francis met him in the spring 
of 1221, he was a retired merchant hving in exile at Poggibonzi 
in Florentine territory, and edifying the neighbourhood by 
his charity to the poor and his love of religion. But Lu- 
chesio had not always been a man of remarkable Christian 
habits. In his young days, when he was a successful merchant 
at Gagiano in the territory of Siena, he was known as a gay 
spirit with ambitions to rise in the world ; and he was not 
above paying court to the nobles and the men of influence, 
whom he would oblige with his money and delight with his 
ready wit. He married a woman of sensibility and beauty, 
who shared his ambitions and contributed not a little to his 
popularity. People named her Buona Donna — the gracious 
lady : and this name befitted her through the coming vicis- 
situdes which were to mark her husband's career. 

Luchesio was an ardent pohtician : he could hardly have 
attained to any social consideration if he had not been. Then 
with a turn of the wheel fortune went against the Guelphs 
and in favour of the Ghibellines, and Luchesio had to flee 
for safety into the friendly Florentine town of Poggibonzi. 
Adversity and exile chastened his spirit and his thoughts 
turned to religion. Thus he was prepared to hsten when 
Francis came along searching for souls. With the consent of 
the faithful Buona Donna, Luchesio now sold his property, 
all except four acres of land, and distributed the money to the 
poor. Then husband and wife received from Francis the 
colourless woollen habit of the penitents. From that time 
Luchesio worked his own small farm and lived on its produce. 
His house became a hostelry for the poor whom Francis-like 
he fed daily before he fed himself. Frequently he would take 
long journeys seeking out the sick, and finding them he would 
bring them to his house, sometimes putting them upon an 


ass, at other times bearing them on his shoulders : and 
Buona Donna received and nursed them. On occasions when 
the malaria was abroad, Luchesio would journey to stricken 
districts even as far as the sea-coast, to distribute medicines 
and food. When his own means ran short he went round 
questing from his neighbours for the wherewith to feed the 

Thus in incessant service for the needy and in self-denying 
love of God and their neighbour, Luchesio and his wife came 
to the life eternal. They had been true companions in life and 
they kept their companionship in death. Both fell mortally 
sick about the same time. Buona Donna prayed she might 
not out-live her husband and her prayer was heard. Luchesio 
rose from his bed to assist his wife in her last agony ; then 
he returned to bed and died also : " in death they were not 
divided " } 

1 Of. Acta SS. Aprilis, torn. in. pp. 594 seq. ; Ohron. xxiv. Gen. in Anal. 
Franc, iii. p. 27 ; Wadding, AnnaJes, ad ann. 1213 and 1221. 



And now, reader, I must ask you to give your attention to 
that question of schools for the friars, which brought sorrow 
into the life of Francis in his latter years and which has ever 
since been a source of controversy amongst those who speak 
of him. 

Some there are who would have us believe that Francis 
was altogether antagonistic to learning and that, if he had 
had his way, he would have banned the teaching of the 
schools from his fraternity for all time. And, indeed, it is 
easy to find words of his which, taken apart from the circum- 
stances in which they were uttered and from the context of 
his life, might well seem to favour this judgment of him. 
But of no man were it more misleading so to quote his words. 
Francis, be it remembered, was no philosopher given to utter- 
ing abstract or universal propositions. He was at all times a 
man of action dealing directly with the concrete case before 
him. And as it happens, most of Francis' sayings concern- 
ing book-learning were uttered in the stress of a struggle for 
the maintenance of the very life of the fraternity as he had 
founded it : in which struggle the question of scholastic 
studies was chiefly advocated by those who lacked sympathy 
with the original purpose of the fraternity and looked for in- 
spiration to the outer world. Had they achieved their 



purpose, the fraternity would have been totally transformed 
from that which it was designed to be, into something 
utterly foreign to its own character and vocation. Francis, 
therefore, was in the position of a man who feels himself 
bound to guard what has been entrusted to him against 
those who would snatch it from his keeping in order to 
pervert it to some traitorous use. 

In such circumstances friendly argument with the enemy 
at the gate will seem a dangerous approach to disloyalty. 
With the demand of some of the brethren that they should 
be allowed to make book-studies and attend schools, went 
the contention, either openly confessed or implicit, that the 
fundamental ideal of poverty must be reconsidered and 
brought into closer relationship with what the dissident 
brethren considered the greater usefulness of the fraternity ; 
and so when the question of studies was brought up, it was 
complicated by its connexion with a policy of secular pru- 
dence which to the soul of Francis meant a betrayal of the 
hfe of Poverty. 

To state the truth of the matter at once, Francis did not 
anathematize academic study and book-learning as an evil in 
itself, but he valued as a supreme treasure of his vocation 
that heart-knowledge which is gained in the battle of life 
when men are wholly intent upon the achievement of the 
cause to which they are consecrated. Any learning other than 
this was to him a mere mental luxury and a distraction from 
the real business of life, and tended to self-conceit more than 
to the service of God. 

Now he was convinced that the demand for books and 
schools which had arisen amongst the brethren had no re- 
lationship with the vocation to which they were dedicated 
but to purposes apart : and in great measure this was but too 


true. Had it been otherwise the bitter controversies which 
now arose, would never have arisen : for Francis, far from 
being indifferent to mental culture, had a native feeling for 
it. He gave peculiar reverence to men whose judgments were 
weighted with solid learning, and especially to theologians of 
the right sort who spoke of religion with understanding and 
wisdom : these he declared were lords amongst men and de- 
serving of homage.' Itds to be noted, that he was accustomed 
to fill the more responsible offices in the fraternity with learned 
brethren. Thus he appointed Peter Cathanii, a doctor of 
law, to be his first Vicar-General ; he sent Pacifico, the poet- 
laureate, as minister to France ; the two Vicars set to govern 
the fraternity during his absence in the East were both men 
of parts intellectually ; Brother Elias, as we know, had ac- 
quired some reputation in the schools of Bologna. Nor was 
he himself without mental culture. He had been greatly in- 
fluenced by the new romantic literature of his time and 
made use of the romances of chivalry in his instruction of 
the brethren. He emulated too the minstrels of Provence. 
At one time he had felt the attraction to more exact studies.^ 
Nor is this incident without significance : for once when some 
brethren were anxious to study the Scriptures and there was 
only one volume at hand, Francis took and divided the leaves 
and distributed to each brother a portion, that the brothers 
might not have to wait till the whole volume could be passed 
round in turn.^ 

But where Francis fell foul of many of the schoolmen 

• Cf. Tsflamentuin S. Franc. ; " Et oimus theologos et qui ministrant verba 
divina debenus hcmoraie et venerari sicut qui ministrant nobis spiritum et 

2 Of. Spec. Pe-fect. cap. 4 ; " Ego similiter tentaius fui habere libros," etc. 

" S. Bonaveuture, E2nst. de Tribus QucBStionibus, no. 10, in Opera Omnia 
(Quaracohi), vol. viii. p. 834 b. 


who had entered the fraternity, was in his plain disregard for 
what we now call the theory of "learning for learning's 
sake". He held that knowledge is to be valued only in rela- 
tion to character and action. He would say: "As much 
knowledge has a man, as he does deeds; and a religious 
prays well only inasmuch as he works well : for the doer is 
known by his fruits "} And again he would say that "they 
who rely upon book-learning in the day of sorrow and battle, 
will find their hands empty " ; ^ since it is not learning but 
the fulfilment of one's duty which makes a man spiritually 

Moreover he held as of little account that preaching which 
is based on book-knowledge rather than on spiritual experi- 
ence. His brethren, he would say, were not called by God to 
be orators to tickle the fancy of the audience with elegance 
of language and fine conceits, but to be preachers of the 
Divine Word. They were to speak God's message. This 
message they would learn more truly in prayer and in ponder- 
ing in the heart upon Divine Truth, than in books. He would 
say : " The preacher should first draw in by secret prayer what 
he is afterwards to pour out in sacred discourse ; he must rather 
grow hot within than utter cold words outwardly ". 

It was not by fine words that the people would be con- 
verted but by the glowing spirit : nor could he repress his 
scorn for those brethren who took credit to themselves when 
they had delivered some elaborately prepared oration and 
gained the people's applause. " Why do you boast of people 
converted," he would exclaim, "when it is my simple 
brethren who have converted them by their prayers?"^ 

His indignation with these vain scholars arose partly 
from his great reverence for life itself. Life with its 

1 Spec. Perfect, cap. 4. = ibid. cap. 70. ' II Gelano, 163-4. 


emotions and duties, was too sacred to be their plaything. 
Knowledge begotten of life filled him with a sense of awe : 
it meant to him a coming into the very presence of God, the 
source of all Truth. As showing his singular reverence for 
this higher knowledge we must note that he held in great 
respect all spoken and written words, since they symbolized 
to him this divine self-revelation : which respect was shown 
in naive fashion. He would never obliterate a word he had 
written, however unnecessary it might be to the sense of his 
writing : and he was accustomed to gather up any scraps of 
writing he found on the road and put them aside in reverence. 

Once when it was pointed out to him, perhaps not 
without sarcastic intention, that the scrap of writing he had 
rescued was from some heathen author, he replied that it 
mattered not, since the words, whether of heathens or of 
other men, all came from the wisdom of God.^ 

This intense reverence for the written word showed itself 
also in his method of reading : for whenever he came upon a 
passage which stimulated his thought, he would read no 
further, but closed the book and pondered upon what he had 
read that he might not lose aught of a good thing. And that 
was how he would have the brethren read. One good book 
read thus, he said, was better than a thousand treatises 
hurriedly skimmed over.^ 

Thus Francis, as you see, was no contemner of reading ; 
but he would have the brethren study only what would 
strengthen and inflame the heart with the knowledge proper 
to their vocation. And he would have them think more with 
the heart than with the brain. For hfe for the Friar Minor, 
meant above all else the love of Jesus Christ and of the 
world for Christ's sake. Hence he would have it that the 

' I Celano, 82. 2 u Celano, 102. 

The friars establish a school 351 

one desirable object of studj' was Jesus Christ the Lord o£ 
the fraternity. Yet tliis saying must not be understood in 
any narrow sense. Did not the tales of Roland and the Pala- 
dins stimulate Francis in the service of His Divine Master ? 
Whatever touched his heart with a generous impulse spoke 
to him of his Lord's life and service, and he took tribute in 
the way of knowledge from all the good and noble things he 
found upon the earth whether in the deeds of men or in the 
existence of other creatures. He found, 

" tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, 
"Sermons in stones, and good in everytliing. " 

All told him of the life he thirsted for. Perhaps this very 
receptivity of his being to the voices of Nature itself, made 
him feel less the need of books than do men of duller intui- 
tions and slower hearts ; and for this reason perhaps he failed 
to appreciate the need which most men have of seeking an 
interpretation of their own experience in the writings ol 
others. But though this may have had some influence upon 
his attitude towards the accumulation of books by the brethren, 
it was not the ground of his opposition. His real opposition 
came from his instinctive perception that in their book-learn- 
ing, many of the brethren were losing their simplicity of heart 
and the pure ideal of their calling : they were setting aside 
that heart-knowledge which is gained by spiritual experience 
and the fulfilment of one's proper purpose, for the sake of a 
mere intellectual satisfaction : and that meant ruin to the 
character of the fraternity. Such purely intellectual know- 
ledge, or knowledge trained upon mere secular purposes, was 
what men mostly acquired in the schools, and for this reason 
he would say that when a learned man entered the fraternity, 
if he wished to be a true Friar Minor, he must in some sort 


leave behind him the learning he had gained in the world. 
He once expressed his mind concerning the reception of school- 
men, in this fashion : "I would have a man of letters come 
to me with this petition : ' See, brother, I have hved long in 
the world and have never truly known my God. Give me, I 
beseech you, a place removed from the turmoil of the world 
where I may grieve over my past years, and where, gathering 
together the scattered energies of my heart, I may reform my 
soul for better things.' " And he added: "What think you 
would the man become who made such a beginning ? Verily 
he would go forth to all things with the strength of a lion 
unchained. Such a man might at length be confidently as- 
signed to the true ministry of the AVord, because he would 
pour forth that which was boiling within him."^ That 
parable strikes the keynote of Francis' opposition to aca- 
demic studies. In the schools men " did not truly know their 

But the brethren who were clamouring to be allowed to 
study, saw only in Francis' attitude a stern unreasoning op- 
position to learning. And Francis had not the gift of making 
a logical analysis of a situation and of unravelling the tangled 
threads of a complexity. Perhaps if he had, the others would 
not have understood : they too were encumbered by a mental 
horizon beyond which they could not see. 

They saw what others, not of the fraternity, were doing, 
and felt what they might do if they were as other men. The 
Friars Preachers, for example, were studying theology and 
opening schools and becoming a power in the Church ; and 
why not they ? Very subtly the sense of power was moulding 
their thoughts : they were conscious of the power latent in 
the fraternity, as a new-born virile nation exults in its energy • 

» II Oelano, 194. 


and they were keen for conquest. It was an intoxication of 
the mind and they would gladly use the world's weapons to 
subdue the world. And then, many of them felt that fascina- 
tion for study which was beginning to draw men in their thou- 
sands to the great centres of learning, such as Bologna and 
Salerno.^ The fraternity, recruited widely from all classes 
and conditions, could hardly escape that new enthusiasm for 
learning which was sweeping over Christendom. 

And a wonderful thing it seemed, that gift of knowledge. 
True, the schools were as yet in that early stage in which 
memory and fancy are cultivated almost to the exclusion of 
the deeper reflective faculty, and when the forms of knowledge 
and the art of expression are of more immediate concern than 
knowledge itself. Yet even so they seemed to open out an 
infinitude of mental liberty and to transform a man as by 
magic from the condition of a clod of earth into something 
more ethereal. There was an intoxication in the conceit, 
which those will forgive who remember in their own case the 
fascination of that youthful exercise of the intellect and the 
first sadness that comes of the awakening to a deeper reality. 
Most of the brethren who came from the schools, now that 
the fraternity was becoming a power with the people, had 
passed through no deep spiritual experience which would 
have sobered their minds and brought grace to their know- 
ledge : they had but succumbed to the general enthusiasm 
which Francis evoked. The learning of the schools was still 
an idol of their desire. 

Thus between them and Francis there was a gulf of mis- 
understanding. Each spoke of learning and the study of 
books with his heart turned towards a goal diftereiit from 

1 Bologna, it is said, at thiis time numbered ten thouisand atudenta. Gf. 
Denifle, Die Universit&ten des Mittelalters, i. pp. 135-6. 



that which attracted the other. And that was what Francia 
felt. The anxiety for books and schools was a symptom of 
a spirit turning away from the truth which he had taught 
them and looking towards the outer world in which poverty 
had no part. " Wheedled by the evil spirits, these brethren 
\)f mine will depart from the way of holy simphcity and 
most high poverty," he cried out. " They will receive monies 
and bequests and legacies of all kinds ; they will leave poor 
and solitary places and build sumptuous houses for themselves 
in boroughs and cities, which will proclaim to men not the 
condition of the poor but the pomp of princes and lords of 
the world ; with much cunning and human prudence and im- 
portunity they will seek and procure privileges from the 
Church and the Sovereign Pontiffs, not only relaxing but 
destroying the purity of the Eule they have promised to 
observe and of the life revealed to them by Christ." ' 

The diliiculty became acute over the convent which Peter 
Stacia had built at Bologna during Francis' absence in the 
East. That convent was to Francis a symbol of the evil 
which the unholy desire for learning would work amongst 
the brethren, leading them to set at naught the poverty and 
simplicity proper to their vocation. Whether Peter Stacia 
had meant to estalilish a school of theology after the example 
of the Dominicans, or whether he intended the brethren at 
Bologna to follow the ordinary curriculum of law and arts in 
the university, we cannot say. In either case he had acted 
openly in defiance of Francis and with manifest disregard for 
the original spirit of the fraternity. In uttering his malediction 

' Legenda Vetus, no. 1, in Opuscules de Critiqiw Sistoriqiie, torn. i. fasc. 
III. pp. 87-8. The passage undoubtedly expresses the actual fears of Francis, 
though perhaps in the language of the wriier of the legend. Compare with it 
II Gelano, 69, 157. 


upon the head of Peter Stacia, Francis had cursed the secular 
ambition which was invading the Order. That curse struck 
terror into the hearts of many ; the more so because Francis 
to the end of his hfe could never be induced to recall it. 
Nevertheless the restless anxiety for study was not stilled. 
It was deliberately encouraged by Brother Elias, who even 
permitted the lay-brethren to have books for study. And this 
seemed to Francis the greater evil ; for from the time the 
troubles began, he had begun to fasten his faith upon the lay- 
brethren as the upholders of the simplicity of the fraternity.^ 
With mingled indignation and sorrow he therefore one day 
listened to a lay-brother novice who came to him to ask 
leave to have a psalter. The Vicar-General had already given 
him the desired permission, but knowing Francis' mind re- 
garding this matter, the novice was uneasy, and yet he 
dearly wanted the psalter to read and study. "Father," he 
said, "it would be a great comfort to me to have a psalter, 
and the General has allowed it unto me ; nevertheless I would 
fain have it with your knowledge and approval.'" But Francis 
met the request with an outburst of pent-up sorrow : " Charles 
the Emperor, Eoland and Oliver and all the paladins and 
puissant men who were mighty in war, pursuing the heathen 
with sore sweat and labour even to the death, achieved a vic- 
tory worthy of remembrance and at last themselves died in 
battle martyrs for the faith of Christ ; but now there are 
many who only for the telling of the deeds they did, would 
have honour and human praise. Likewise amongst ourselves 
there are many who only by reciting and preaching the works 

' Of. Spec. Perfect, cap. 72 ; Eooleston [ed. Little], col. xiii. p. 88. Elias 
pursued a policy of Eavouriug the lay-brothers and attaching them to his 
person. They became Ins chief supporters later on. Gf. Salimbene, loc. cit. 
pp. 99-100. 



which the saints have done, wish to receive honour and praise." 
The novice went away but returned after some days with the 
same request. Francis was sitting by the fire. When the 
novice had recited his petition, Francis reph'ed somewhat 
caustically : " and when you have got the psalter you will 
covet and desire a breviary. And when you have got a bre- 
viary you will sit in a high chair like a great prelate and call 
to your brother : ' bring me my breviary '." Then he took a 
handful of ashes and in dramatic mockery made as though to 
wash his head with the ashes, murmuring meanwhile aloud: 
" Me, a breviary ! Me, a breviary 1 " The novice shamefacedly 
looked on. But afterwards Francis took him more gently 
and persuasively : " Brother," he said, " I too have likewise 
been tempted to have books, but whilst I was still ignorant of 
God's will concerning this matter I took a book wherein were 
written the Gospels of the Lord, and I prayed that in the 
first opening of the book He would show me His Will ; and 
having finished my prayer, in the first opening of the book 
this word of the Gospel came to me : ' To yoa it is given to 
know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to others 
in parables '." Then after awhile he added meditatively : "So 
many there are who are ready to exalt themselves unto know- 
ledge, that he will be blessed who makes himself barren for 
the love of the Lord God ". Not for some months did the 
novice again seek to have the psalter, but at last the tempta- 
tion once more grew strong ; and again he applied to Francis 
one day when he was standing near his cell at the Porziuncola. 
Francis answered tersely: "Go; act in this matter as your 
minister has told you ". The novice, however, had not gone 
many steps when Francis ran after him and bade him come 
back to the sjjot where he had spoken. Then he knelt at the 
novice's feet and confessed that he had spoken wrongly against 


the Eule : " Brother, I have done wrong," he said, " for who- 
soever would be a true Friar Minor, must have nothing save 
only, as the Rule allows, a tunic and cord and breeches and, 
those who need them, shoes ". So ended that incident to the 
novice's discomfiture.^ 

Matters stood thus between Francis and the brethren, 
when in 1221 or 1222 — the precise date cannot be fixed — 
the house of studies at Bologna was reopened, as we have 
said, through the intervention of Cardinal Ugolino,^ who 
on the occasion of a visit to Bologna, made a public declara- 
tion that the house did not belong to the Friars Minor but 
to the Holy See, and that the brethren had but the simple 
use of it. The declaration was designed to meet Francis' 
scruples on the point of poverty. It may be doubted whether 
he was altogether consenting to this arrangement ; but the 
essential principle of non-ownership being conceded, he made 
no further opposition to the friars returning there. 

The Cardinal had undoubtedly come to the conclusion 
that it was in the interest of the Church that the Friars 
Minor should study theology and have theological schools. 
There were several reasons for such a step. Men of heroic 
sanctity and high spiritual enlightenment, such as Francis 
and some others in the fraternity, might perhaps do well 
as preachers without scholastic training ; but not all the 
brethren, nor by far the greater part, were of such ex- 
ceptional spirituality. And in any case, even if they had 
been, circumstances now were different. In the beginning 
and until lately, the preaching of the brethren had been 

' Spec. Perfect, cap. 4 ; II Celano, 195. 

" Ugolino was at Bologna in July, August, and October of 1221. Of. Guido 
Levi, Begistri, pp. 24, 38, lOS, 121. He was still in Northern Italy in the 
beginning of 1222, and may have visited Bologna that year also, although 
there is no record of such a visit. Of. supra, p. 316. 


confined to the preaching "of penance," that is, of right 
Christian conduct : they had not been called upon to expound 
the dogmas of faith. But in view of the spread of heresy 
the Cardinal meant to extend the scope of the friars' preach- 
ing so as to instruct the people in the Faith and combat the 
heretics. But for this, theological training would be neces- 
sary. Ah'eady the Church was suffering from itinerant 
preachers who, in sheer ignorance of Catholic theology, 
preached heresy.^ 

But the Cardinal had a yet further purpose. One of the 
crying needs of the day was for theological schools for the train- 
ing of the clergy. In the universities theology was either ex- 
cluded from the course of studies or it was expounded on purely 
speculative principles which led to all manner of heresies. The 
Aristotelian philosophy seemed to be regarded as of higher au- 
thority than the Fathers of the Church in the interpreting of 
Holy Scripture.^ Even in the monastic schools the studies 
were mostly concerned with law and medicine to the neglect of 
Scripture and theology.^ The Holy See had endeavoured to 
remedy the evil by ordaining the establishment of Church 
schools ; but the ordinance had remained largely a dead 
letter owing to the lack of competent masters.* The Do- 
minicans had from the beginning taken the matter in hand 
with immediate success, and Cardinal Ugolino looked to the 
Friars Minor to do the same. The reopening of the house 

1 Vide e.g. the Constitution of Odo, Bishop of Paris, concerning ignorant 
preachers. Hardiiin, Acta Concil. vi. p. 1945, no. 41. 

2 The doctrines of Amaury de Bena and David de Dinant had been but 
recently solemnly condemned, and in consequence the reading of Aristotle, 
whetlier in public or private, was forbidden (of. Denifle-Chatelain, Chartul 
Universil. Paris, i. no. 11, p 70 ; no. 12, p. 71 ; no. 22, p. 81). 

'' Of. Denifle-Chatelain, loc. cit. no. 32, p. 90. 
*0f. Denifle, Die UniversitHten, i. p. 708a. 


at Bologna was preliminary to inducing Francis to consent 
to the opening of a theological school for the brethren. 

From the summer of 1222 and throughout the following 
year it is evident that Francis had Bologna much in mind. 
On the feast of the Assumption, 1222, he was in the city and 
preached one of his unforgettable sermons in the great piazza 
before a vast crowd of citizens and students; and to the 
students it seemed a wonderful thing that a man unversed in 
the arts of the schools, should plunge so easily into the mys- 
teries of religion and carry his audience along untrodden 
paths of thought as one at home there. Many of the students 
saw him for the first time, and they looked upon a small 
emaciated man in a patched unkempt garment, whose out- 
ward appearance was in strange contrast to his warm graceful 
eloquence as he discoursed to them on the duties and respon- 
sibilities of men who share with angels and devils the gift of 
reason. 1 Again, a little before Christmas, the city was 
startled by a letter which Francis had written to the brethren 
and which he ordered them to read in all the schools of the 
city. In it he foretold the great earthquake which shook all 
Lombardy on Christmas Day and for many days afterwards, 
and was remembered with terror in the years to come.^ Yet 

1 Thomas of Spalatro, at the time a student at Bologna, has left a vivid 
pen-pioture of Francis' appearance on this occasion. Of. Historia Pontificum 
Salanitanorum et Spalatinorum, edited by Heinemann in Mon. Germ. Hist. 
Script, xxix. p. 580. Sigonius (De Episcopus Bonon. Opera Omnia, iii. col. 
432) took libeities with the text of Thomas of Spalatro and added the date 
1220 : and this date was accepted by later writers. But Heinemann makes it 
clear that this sermon was preached in the same year as the great earthquake at 
Brescia, which occurred on 25 December, 1222. Computing the year by the 
most common method, from 25 March, this places the sermon on 15 August, 
1222; and this is the date now generally accepted. Of. Golubovioh, op. cit. 
p. 98 ; Boehmer, Analekten, p. 106. 

^Bcoleston [ed. Little], col. vi. p. 40. Of. Muratori, Annali d' Italia. 
ad an. 1222. 


again he was at Bologna in the following April, when he 
preached to the people and predicted another earthquake 
which happened on the Good Friday.' 

It is not unlikely that these visits to Bologna had some 
reference to the estabhshment of a theological school such as 
Cardinal Ugolino desired. At any rate the predestined man 
had now appeared in this very province of the Eomagna. who 
was to bring this diiificult question to some sort of solution. 
He was Brother Anthony, afterwards to be known as Saint 
Anthony of Padua.^ 

Anthony's appearance in history is somewhat in the 
nature of a romance, as is frequently the case with men of 
magnetic personality. He had become a Friar Minor, as we 
have seen, at the shrine of the martyred friars of Morocco in 
the church of the Canons Regular at Coimbra. His one desire 
then was to preach the Faith to the infidels and perhaps be 
martyred in the cause. But shipwreck and sickness brought 
him to Italy just before the time of the General Chapter of 
12'21 and ho had found his way to the Chapter in the com- 
pany of other friars. But when the brethren were dispersing 
to their provinces Anthony, an unknown friar and of a retir- 
ing disposition, was nearly being passed over when Gratiano, 

^ Of. Pr. Barthol. della PQgliola, Chron, di Bologna, in Muratori, Berum 
Ital. Script. XVIII. col. 254. 

'Concerning Anthony of Padua, cf. Vita Primitiva, ed. Hilaire de Paris; 
also another version of the same legend in PortugalUm Mon. Hist. Script, vol. 
I. ; yet another version edited by Josa, Legenda seu Vita et miracula sancti An- 
tonii (Bologna, 1883). Cf. Rigaldi, Vita B. Antonii, ed. by d' Auraules ; Chron. 
XXIV. Gen. in Anal. Franc. III. p. 121 seq. ; Kerval, S. Ant. de Padua. Vila 

For a critical examination of these early sources cf. Lepitre, Saint Antoin-e 
de Fadoue (Paris, 1901); Bolland, Acta SS. Junii, die 13; P. Niccolo dal-Gal, 
S. Antonio di Padova (Quaracohi, 1907) ; Hilarin de Lucerne, Histoire 
des Etudes, p. 139 seq. 


the Minister-Provincial of Lombardy, invited him to join that 
province. As a priest he would be useful, Gratiano thought, 
to say Mass for the brethren in some solitary hermitage. So 
Anthony was sent to San Paolo in the mountains neai Forli 
in the Eomagna. There he gave himself to solitary prayer 
and to menial services amongst the brethren. No one sus- 
pected his wide reading of theology or his talent for 

Gratiano and the friars in fact thought him a simple man 
with just enough knowledge of Latin to enable him to say 
Mass. But some months afterwards there was an ordination 
of priests at Forli and the brethren of San Paolo were bidden 
to be present. The brethren were all assembled in the house 
of the Order at Forli for their evening meal, with some 
Dommican friars as their guests ; and after the collation the 
Guardian asked one of the Dominicans to address the com- 
munity upon divine things. But not one of the guests would 
consent. Thereupon Anthony was ordered to speak in simple 
words as God should inspire him. He too excused himself, 
but the Guardian insisted. Then upon obedience he rose up 
and spoke and to their amazement the assembled brethren 
discovered they had harboured a genius in the guise of a 

Anthony was now torn, much against his will, from the 
retreat of San Paolo, and within a short while the people of 
the Eomagna were awake to the new preacher who had risen 
suddenly amongst them. 

There was that about Anthony which made his preaching 
distinctive. He had all the moral fervour of a penitential 
preacher ; but to the heart aflame he added a clear argumen- 
tative intellect and a memory well stocked with the lore of 
Scripture and the Fathers of the Church. That was indeed 


what those people in the Eomagna needed in the way of 
preaching. Nowhere had the heretics gained ground more 
surely than in that province, and religion had taken an argu- 
mentative turn because of them. 

The Cathari, who denied the authority of the Church and 
the validity of the sacraments and who held to the creed that 
the creation was in part of evil origin, were to be found every- 
where, making adherents and bringing doubt into the minds 
of the people. For their authority they appealed to the Scrip- 
tures, the texts of which they expounded by that subjective 
method which was in vogue both amongst orthodox and un- 
orthodox and which allows its disciples a free play of opinion 
or fancy in the interpretation : and so the Cathari were able 
to read their own tenets into any Scripture passage they chose, 
and to pass off their own tenets as the inspired word of Holy 
Writ. In fact they claimed to read anew the Scriptures in 
the light of enlightened reason.' Anthony, on the other 
hand, had mastered the Scriptuies in the light of the Catholic 
instinct and patristic teaching. As he arrayed his texts they 
shone with the accumulated wisdom of the saintly Catholic 
teachers of the past : but the wisdom had become his own 
in his long meditative vigils and rapt spiritual experience. 
And so as he poured out the traditional teaching of those 
who had gone before him, it palpitated with the living con- 
viction of his own heart. Strangely enough, seeing that he 
was regarded as " the hammer of heretics," his sermons 
were not of a controversial character: they might have been 
preached before a communitj' of orthodox monks as appro- 

> Cf. Felice Tocoo, L' Eresia nel Medio Evo, pp. 128-9 : " I perfetti cathari 
parevano animati da una fede piii razionale et piu studiosi dei sacri testi". 
One finds a similar instance of this style of interpretation amongst the Chris- 
tian Scientists of to-day. 


pnately as before a crowd in the cathedral or market-place.' 
As we have them in writing, they are discourses on the spiri- 
tual life rather than expositions of Catholic teaching meant to 
combat heretical views. 

He was indeed of the race of the mystics and not of the 
dialecticians. His argument was fashioned not to display a 
logical consistency or inconsistency, but to convey some felt 
truth of the inner life, or some experience of faith. And after 
all, whether for the confuting of unbelievers or the confirm- 
ing of believers, it is this manner of argument which sways 
the world. 

Such was the friar whose eloquence had set the Eomagna 
astir. Already at this time when Francis was preaching at 
Bologna, people were telling the story how at Rimini, where 
Cathari and Ghibellines had long made mockery of the 
Church and would not listen to the new preacher, Anthony 
had bidden them follow him to the sea-shore ; and how when 
they came there, he had called to the fishes to hear the word 
of God ; and how at his call the surface of the sea moved 
with the fish who rose up to listen whilst he preached.^ But 
Anthony's miracles — and he was a singular wonder-worker 
—were but another form of his preaching, that is, an argu- 
ment of the faith which was in him. Francis must have 
heard of the doings of this newly-known disciple who to the 
brethren seemed himself the greatest of his miracles ; for 
never, they thought, had there been such a combination of 
learning and simple faith, of the majestic power of eloquence 
with such utter self-effacement. 

1 Vide Opera Omnia S. Antonii, ed. de la Haye (Parisiis, 1641), mostly a 
collection of sermons. Doubtless as they are written we have but the schema 
of Ms sermons; and in the actual delivery he may have made local applica- 
tions which are not embodied in the text. 

2Rigaldus (op. oit. p. 89) says this miracle occurred near Padua ; but sea 
Lepitre, cap. 4, Engl, transl. p. 62 seq. 


Here then was the theologian after Francis' own heart. 
Later on when Anthony was appointed to teach theology, 
Francis addressed a letter to him beginning: "Brother 
Anthony, my bishop:" it was a compliment which came 
from the heart and from the glad reverence with which he 
welcomed him. 

Anthony's appointment as lector of theology at Bologna 
was made probably during the winter of 1223. Francis then 
wrote to him : "It pleases me that you should read sacred 
theology to the brethren so long as on account of this study 
they do not extinguish the spirit of holy prayer as is 
ordained in the Rule".' 

In after years there was a persistent tradition that before 
taking up the lectorship at Bologna, Anthony went to 
Vercelli the better to fit himself by study for the task 
imposed upon him. That city was the seat of a new theo- 
logical school recently established in the abbey of San 
Andrea. Thomas Gallo, who presided over the abbey school, 
was, as all the world knows, a man of high repute amongst 
the learned theologians of his day. He was a disciple of the 
theological school of St. Victor in Paris, and himself the 
author of an exposition of the writings attributed to Denis 
the Areopagite. Whether Anthony, however, actually studied 
at Vercelli is doubtful ; but this is certain, that he knew the 

'Of. Ohron. xxiv. Gen. in Anal. Franc, iii. p. 132; II Celano, 163. Tho 
exact reading of this letter has been a matter of doubt ; hence the Quaracchi 
editora put it amongst the doubtful writings of St, Francis in their edition of 
the Opuscula (p. 179) ; so also does Boehmer, AnaUkten, p. 71 : but both 
regard the substance as authentic. The discovery of a copy of the letter in 
MS. de Leignitz seems, however, to put the authenticity beond doubt. Cf. 
Opuscules de Critique Hist. torn. i. p. 76. The reference in the letter to the 
Eule proves that it was written after the promulgation of the liule of 1223, aa 
the words : " Sanctce orationis spiritum non exti7iguant " are a quotation from 
the lifth chapter of that Rule. 


master of the school and was on terms of friendship with 
him: for Gallo himself has written: "Many have pene- 
trated into the secrets of the most holy Trinity, as I myself 
know by experience of Anthony of the Order of Minors in 
the friendly intercourse I had with him. He was but little 
versed in secular arts yet in a short while he became so con- 
versant with mystical theology that aflame inwardly with 
heavenly love he outwardly shone with sacred knowledge." ^ 
ISlo othei* testimony is needed to explam why Francis con- 
sented to Anthony teaching theology. If theology had to be 
taught, Anthony was the predestined teacher after Francis' 
own heart. 

And no mere accident was it that drew Anthony into 
friendship with Thomas Gallo, but rather an affinity of spirit. 
The Victorine school of theology was mystical rather than 
dialectical. Though it did not ignore the speculative the- 
ology then coming into vogue, yet it subordinated this 
new method of thought to the positive teaching of the 
Fathers of the Church, and sought for the vision of truth 
rather than for its analysis.^ 

The mystic of all ages has held that life itself cannot 
be adequately measured by the mere logical faculty of the 
mind but only by the intuition of the whole personality when 
attuned to the truth by moral as well as mental discipline. 
With the purely dialectical school of theology the pure 
Franciscan spirit could never have come to terms : too wide 
a gulf separated this school of cold reasoning from the heart- 

' E. Salvagnini, S. Antonio di Padova e i sicoi tempi (Torino, 1887), p. 93. 
The author discovered this passage in an unedited manuscript of Gallo in the 
Turin Library. Another version is given in MS. de Leignitz, loc. oit. p. 76 ; 
Glassberger, Anal. Franc, ii. p. 34 ; Ghron. xxiv. Gen. in Anal. Franc, in. 
p. 131. 

" Of. Hugon. de S. Vict, in Migne, Bibliotheca, torn, d-x^v.-CLXxvii. 


governed temperament of the true sons of Poverty. In 
purely academic learning the soul of the Franciscan must 
ever be a stranger ; its affinity is with the realities of life in 
which the whole spirit of man and not merely the intellect, 
grows and gains its liberty. 

Much the same spirit urged the disciples of the school of 
St. Victor in their intellectual Hfe. They sought for know- 
ledge by the exercise of all the spiritual faculties : not only 
must a man read ; he must work and pray. And out of the 
experience of life, knowledge would come, and the highest 
knowledge might be gained only in the highest experience, 
namely, the intimate union of the creature with God. In 
other words these mystics held that experience and love are 
the springs whence alone true knowledge can be drawn : to 
the logical faculty they gave but the subordinate function of 
arranging and formulating the knowledge thus acquired. In 
the Holy Scriptures and in the teaching of the Fathers of 
the Church they looked for the witness of that spiritual 
experience which is conserved in the Catholic Church by the 
Divine Spirit dwelling therein : but they held that this wit- 
ness can be adeijuately apprehended only by the believing 
soul inflamed with love of the truth revealed. 

With these mystical schools the Franciscan spirit was, as 
we have said, akin ; and thither it might safely go to seek its 
mental stimulus and discipline, provided the friar kept in view 
just one point of difference between the learning desirable for 
a Friar Minor and that of the established schools. The differ- 
ence was this. The Friar Minor was by vocation a missionary 
and apostle ; he was set to bring the Gospel to the people either 
by word or by example. Even the mystic may become one 
of a class apart from the multitude of men in their spiritual 
life and wander into some by-path where the common ele- 


mental experiences of men raise no call for sympathy or con- 
sideration. But to the mind of Francis, the Friars Minor must 
always keep a hold of the hand of all humankind in its striving 
after the spiritual life : they must form no aristocracy even in 
their sacred studies but keep intact their moral fellowship with 
the ignorant and unlearned. In their sermons and discourses 
they must speak simply and briefly so that the poorest and 
most ignorant people might understand and derive profit.' 
Moreover the most learned brother must be willing and able 
to set aside his learning and serve men, when need be, in com- 
mon and menial service. Study, however sacred, must never 
displace that life of Poverty which implied a sympathetic 
understanding of the life of the poor whether spiritual, mental 
or material. These truths Francis insistently urged upon the 
learned brethren. Thus one day when a brother was cutting 
his tonsure, Francis bade him be careful to cut only a small 
tonsure, "for," he said, "I wish that my simple brethren 
should have a share in my head "} It was a warning to the 
brethren who were clerics that they must be such that the 
unlearned as well as the learned should be at home with 

To the end Francis watched the formation of schools for 
the brethren with some trepidation of spirit. For Anthony 
and such as he, there was no cause to fear ; but for the many 
others he feared lest the love of study should cause them to 
lose the simplicity of spirit which belonged to their vocation. 

Of the later story of the Franciscan schools and their 
great influence on the development of thought in the thir- 
teenth and fourteenth centuries, this is not the place to 
speak. Only here we will remark that their best influence 
was due to Francis' persistency that intellectual studies should 

• Regula II. cap. ix. - II Celano, 193. 


be subordinated to life itself and in no way lead them astray 
from the vocation which they had vowed. It was this which 
gave to the Franciscan schoolmen a certain marked in- 
dividuality of thought and to the Franciscan preachers their 
peculiar power with the people : and that will be the justi- 
fication of Francis in his opposition to Peter Stacia and his 



The two years immediately following the General Chapter 
of 1221 may well be described as the agony of Francis. 
Like thunderclouds the troubles about the Rule descended 
upon his spirit, oppressing him with forebodings and weari- 
ness and despondency. 

This was indeed the great trial of his faith in the Order 
he had founded, and even in the vocation in which he had 
led the brethren. In the early days his faith had been tested 
by the allurements and mockery of the world he had left ; but 
then he had found in the trial the stimulating joy of a newly 
found love and loyalty. The future had lain before him as a 
caressing vision of hope and liberty ; and as the years grew 
upon each other, this vision had justified itself in the forma- 
tion of the fraternity and the beauteous lives of many 
brethren : and ever at the heart of Francis there was the 
deepening sense of joy until that doubt concerning the 
wisdom of his teaching had entered into the fraternity. 

Then there came to Francis that vital pain which can 
come only to a man from the contradiction of the people he 
has nurtured and loved as his own life. The lightness and 
buoyancy to have passed from his spirit and a 
new note entered into his utterances. He was no longer the 
leader full of the thrilling assurance of victory and the loyalty 

369 24 


ijf his own following, whose words glow with confidence even 
when rebuking. He became as one bearing witness against 
betrayal and disloyalty. 

To this soreness of spirit was added an increasing physi- 
cal weakness and pain. He had returned from the East, 
l)roken in health, and the disease which within a few years 
was to end his hfe was already making life a torture.^ But 
the physical pain he could have borne blithely enough : it 
was the mental suffering which brought black night into his 
soul. Hitherto he had seen so clearly the purpose of God 
in the formation of the fraternity; now it was as though 
Grod were withdrawing His guiding Hand and the powers of 
evil were let loose. 

The immediate effect upon Francis himself was a certain 
restriction of that liberty of soul which had hitherto been so 
distinctive a trait of his character. He became acutely fearful 
of evil and wrongdoing. The Gospel liberty which he cher- 
ished as a condition of the service of love, he now saw beset 
with dangers from the incursion of a worldliness of mind 
which only too readily would wrest this liberty to the destruc- 
tion of the Bule. 

This haunting dread of evil now tinged his words and 
personal conduct with a harshness really foreign to his own 
spirit. Thus in the earlier days he had allowed the brethren 
to receive money in cases of necessity for the relief of the 
lepers ; now he began to discourage this liberty, seeing how 
many of the brethren had not a firm faith in absolute poverty.^ 
So too in his teaching concerning obedience a change is per- 
ceptible. Hitherto he had asked of the brethren an obedience 

' Of. spec. Perfect, cap. 91. 

■"Of. II Gelano, 68. The permission is retained in the Rule of 1221, but 
not in that of 1223. 

The teial of feancis 371 

founded in mutual charity, a submission to each other and 
to all men, warmed and transfused with the impelling activity 
of love. Now this jubilant note of self-submission is lacking. 
The obedient brother he likens to a corpse without will of 
its own, moved hither and thither by the will of others.' 
The emphasis is laid on the submission rather than on the 
charity which impels to submission. 

Another instance of the change which had come over 
Francis was in his relations with the sisters at San Damiano. 
Regarding them as members of the fraternity of Poverty, he 
had for them a chivalrous affection as pure and detached 
from any earthliness as it was sincere. He was to them a 
gentle knight, succouring them in their needs and supporting 
them with his courage and counsel in the high path of their 
vocation. Between him and them there was the exalted 
intercourse of souls too utterly absorbed in a vision beyond 
themselves to entertain any lesser desire. So it had been 
since Clare first entered the brotherhood, and no thought that 
evil might come to others from this wise and noble inter- 
course, had darkened the soul of Francis. But now he was 
troubled lest in this too others might wrest the liberty of the 
children of God to their own spiritual harm. 

He ceased therefore to visit the sisters. And it might 
easily have come about at this time that the sisters would 
have been entirely separated from the fraternity and left 
without the direction of the brethren even in spiritual matters 
had not Clare herself intervened to save the situation. With 
a woman's instinct she divined the trouble in Francis' mind 
and its probable consequences to herself and the sisters, and 
with a woman's courage she set herself to defend Francis 
against himself. Through some of the brethren she protested 

1 II Celano, 152 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 18. 


against his self-imposed estrangement from San Damiano, 
setting forth that it was a betrayal of his promised care of 
them. In his pain Francis replied to those who brought the 
protest : " Think not, dear brethren, that I do not love them 
perfectly ; for if it were a fault to cherish them in Christ, was 
it not a greater fault to have united them to Christ ? And 
indeed it had been no wrong not to call them, but not to care 
for them when called were the utmost unkindness. But I am 
giving you an example, that as I am doing, so also should 
you do." In the end he was prevailed upon to visit the 
sisters and to preach to them. Yet even then the trouble was 
present : for whilst the sisters were waiting upon his words, 
he took some ashes and sprinkling them upon the ground 
around him and upon his head, he recited the psalm Miserere 
and immediately took his departure. But some say that 
Clare did not rest until she persuaded Francis to dine with her 
and some of the sisters in proof of his fatherly care for them.^ 
In his distress Francis now frequently withdrew from the 
larger company of the brethren and betook himself to secluded 
hermitages, where in solitary prayer he wrestled with the evil 
which had come upon him and the fraternity." At times 
when reports were brought to him of brethren who were de- 
parting from the proper ways of the fraternity he would break 
out into bitter lamentation. Such reports were like the touch 
of a coarse hand to his raw spirit. Thus hearing one day that 
certain brethren were growing long beards out of a love of 
novelty, and it would seem to impress the people with an 

' Vide II Gelano, 205-7 : The incident recorded in Actus, cap. 15, and 
Fioretti, cap. 15, should probably be read in conjunction with the passages 
cited from Gelano. Doubtless the author of the Actus has embellished the 
story, but on general principles {vide infra, p. 520) we must accept the fact that 
Francis dined with Clare in token of the amity between them. 

'' II Gelano, 157. 


appearance of austerity, he uttered this cry to heaven : " O 
Lord Jesus Christ "Who didst choose Apostles twelve in num- 
ber, and though one of them fell, yet did the others cleave to 
Thee and, filled with one spirit, did preach the holy Gospel : 
Thou, Lord, in this last hour, remembering Thy mercy of 
old, didst plant the religion of the brethren to be a prop to 
Thy Faith, that through them the mystery of Thy Gospel 
might be fulfilled. Who then shall make satisfaction for 
them before Thee, if they not only do not set examples of 
light to all men, for which purpose they were sent, but rather 
show forth the works of darkness ? By Thee most holy Lord 
and by all the heavenly court, and by me thy poor httle one, 
let them be cursed who by their evil example put to shame 
and destroy what Thou hast built up hitherto by the holy 
brethren of this Order and dost not cease to build up." ^ Of 
others he bitingly exclaimed : " These sons of a father who 
was a beggar, will not be ashamed some day to wear the scarlet 
cloth of gallants with only a change of colour ".^ 

Yet it must not be thought that these traitorous brethren 
represented the whole fraternity, or that the dissident ministers 
carried with them all the brethren. Could the difficulty have 
been settled by an appeal to the loyalty of the brethren to the 
person of Francis, undoubtedly the greater number in the 
fraternity would have rallied to his side. But between Francis 
and the brethren there was now a legally organized system 
of government and many of the chief offices were in the 

' II Celano, 156. Bccleston says that after the Chapter at which John 
Parent! was elected Minister-General, Brother Elias retired to a hermitage and 
allowed his hair and beard to grow, and that by this pretence of sanctity 
{simulatio sanctitatis) he regained the good-will of the brethren (cf. ed. Little, 
p. 81). 

■^11 Celano, 69 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 15. In I Celano, 16, the same phrase 
is used referring to Francis in his youth ; " jwi quondam scarulaticis utebatur ". 


hands of dissident ministers, at least in Italy ; and these were 
the more worldly-wise amongst the brethren and in their 
worldly wisdom lay their power. They too had their following. 

Amongst those who adhered to Francis and the primi- 
tive ways, were some who blamed him for not dealing more 
cavalierly with bis opponents : if Francis would only take the 
reins of government into his own hands and depose the dissi- 
dent ministers, all would be well. Sometimes they would 
come to him and upbraid him for casting into strange bands 
the care of the fraternity. But Francis had gauged the situa- 
tion better than they and he knew himself. To one who thus 
upljraided him he replied : " My son, I love the brethren as far 
as I can, but if they would follow in my ways I would indeed 
love them more, nor would I make myself a stranger unto 
them. But some there are amongst the superiors who draw 
them other ways, proposing to them the example of the 
ancients and esteeming my counsels but little ; but in the end 
it will appear more clearly what they do and in what manner 
they are doing it." ^ Francis preferred wisely to let the recalci- 
trant ministers have their way for awhile, trusting that in the 
end their opposition would defeat itself by manifesting clearly 
its inherent worldliness. At another time when he was again 
urged to depose certain ministers who were clinging to olifice 
and abusing their trust, he answered : " Let them live as they 
like, for the damnation of a few is of lesser moment than the 
loss of many ".^ 

For things eventually came to this pass that very easily 
might a schism have occurred in the fraternity. The line 
taken by the dissident ministers had brought about a 
cleavage of feeling and the brethren were now morally 
divided into two camps : those who stood by the primitive 

UI Celano, 188; Spec. Perfect, cap. 41. ^ibid. 


observance and those who favoured a more secular policy. 
Moreover, in the general disturbance there were some who 
lost all idea of subordination to authority and went their 
own individual ways in defiance of their superiors.' Nor was 
there now that union of heart amongst the brethren which 
in earlier days had made poverty joyous and lightsome. 
Quarrels and angry words were no longer unknown and there 
was a tendency to take life easily and to shirk labour.^ 

Undoubtedly the vast increase in the number of the breth- 
ren had much to do with this laxity of discipline. In such 
a multitude as they now were, it were impossible but that many 
would be drawn to the Order by the prevalent enthusiasm of the 
moment rather than by any real purpose of self-renunciation. 
The Order had become popular, which is always a danger 
to any religious society. Francis himself recognized the 
difficulty. " Would that there were fewer Friars Minor ! " 
he once exclaimed, " and that the world seeing a Friar Minor 
but rarely should wonder at their fewness."^ And yet he had 
felt constrained to open wide the door of the fraternity as 
Christ had opened wide the door of His Church. 

This laxity of discipline on the part of some tended to 
comphcate the issue between Francis and the ministers : it 
gave colour to the plea that the idealism of the Eule was too 
heroic for ordinary mortals and was an evidence to the ancient 
Eules which could be more easily enforced. 

Never did the real strength of Francis show itself more 
splendidly than in the situation thus created. A weaker, less 
temperate man would have taken one of two lines of action. 

iGf. II Celauo, 32; Conf:yrmit., in Anal. Franc, iv. pp. 432-3. On 18 
Deo. 1223, Honorius III issued the bull : " Fratrum Minorum," excommuni- 
cating tliose who left the fraternity (Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 19). 

^Gf. Spec. Perfect, cap. 52; Goiiformit. in Anal. Franc, iv. p. 445. 

3 11 Gelano, 70. 


Either in despair of his own idealism he would have sur- 
rendered or he would have so set himself in opposition as to 
have produced a schism or even the total disruption of the 
fraternity. Francis did neither. Dear to him above all else 
was the vocation of Poverty ; but as part of this supreme affec- 
tion was his love of the brotherhood which he held to be the 
God-designed witness on earth to the Poverty he worshipped : 
and riglit loyally he strove by prayer and example and exhorta- 
tion to keep it intact. True, if it could not be maintained in 
honourable fidelity to the evangelical observances of Poverty, 
he would rather that it were not maintained at all. And 
there were times when it seemed to him that it would come 
to this that the faithful servitors of the Rule would be driven 
from the community and be forced to seek the life of Poverty 
in secluded hermitages away in the forests and wildernesses.' 
In dread of this ultimate evil overtaking the Order, he 
made it known that should the body of the fraternity abandon 
the path of Poverty, the brethren who purposed to remain 
faithful might with his sanction and blessing separate from 
the faithless community and go and dwell apart. Thus a 
German friar once came to him with this petition : " If in my 
days the brethren turn aside from the pure observance of the 
Rule as thou, speaking by the Holy Ghost, hast foretold, give 
me thy command that I, alone or together with other brothers 
who wish to observe the Bule purely, shall draw apart from 
those who do not observe it ". Francis listened with great joy ; 
then blessed the brother, saying : " By Christ and by me, what 
you ask is granted you; " and placing his right hand on the 
other's head he added : " Thou art a priest for ever according 
to the order of Melchisedeck "} 

' Conformit. in Anal. Fraiic. iv. p. 428. 
'^LcgcTuta Vetus, cap. 3, in Opuscules, p. 96. 


It is said that in his final Rule of 1223 he wished to insert 
a clause granting a like hberty to all the brethren in similar 

But this liberty had reference to that ultimate calamity 
when the brethren should find their allegiance to the com- 
munity a betrayal of the allegiance they owed the Rule. In 
such a situation Francis recognized but one honourable duty, 
allegiance to the Rule they had vowed. But short of this 
final calamity Francis counselled patience. Some there were 
amongst the more faithful brethren who would at once have 
separated from the party of the ministers and thus have 
broken up the fraternity. But to this suggestion Francis 
would not listen. Better, as long as may be, to suffer perse- 
cution at the hands of the ministers for justice sake : for he 
yet trusted that by this patient suffering the whole fraternity 
would be purified and brought back to its proper allegiance. 
So for the guidance of these suffering brethren he had this 
" admonition" written down : "If a prelate command a sub- 
ject anything against his soul, it is lawful for the subject not 
to obey him, nevertheless the subject must not cast the pre- 
late off; and if in consequence the subject suffer persecution 
from some, let him love them the more. For he who would 
rather endure persecution than wish to be separated from his 
brethren, truly abides in perfect obedience, since he lays 
down his life for the brothers." And knowing that there 
were some who would gladly separate, not so much for the 
sake of the better observance of the Rule but to follow their 
own will, he added : " For there are many religious who under 
the pretext of seeking better things than those commanded 
by their superiors, look back and return to the vomit of their 

' Vide infra, p. 385. 


own will. These are homicides and by their bad example 
cause the loss of many souls." ^ 

As for himself, faithful to the vision of the Lord Christ, 
which was the light of his life, he met the opposition of the 
mmisters and the unspiritual tendencies which were showing 
themselves amongst the brethren, with the same exalted 
patience and courageous meekness to which he exhorted 
others. When urged to use his legal authority and force 
observance of the Eule by penalties, he replied: "I am not 
minded to become an executioner to punish and scourge them 
like magistrates of this world : my office is spiritual only, 
namely to overcome their vices and spiritually to correct them 
by my words and example ".^ 

At times indeed the native instinct of domination which in 
early years had made him aspire to be captain of a following, 
would assert itself, as when on an occasion he cried out : 
"If I come to the Chapter I will show them of what kind 
my will is ".' But always he corrected himself by recalling 
the humility and meekness proper to a Friar Minor ; as in 
this picture he drew of his proper conduct at the Chapter. " It 

1 Admonitio III in Opiiscula, p. 7. Both in the Rule of 1221 and that of 
1223 Francis inserted a regulation ordering the brethren who could not observe 
the Rule spiritually to have recourse to their ministers. "The ministers are 
to receive them kindly and charitably," etc. (Reg. 1223, cap. x.). This regula- 
tion evidently refers to those who need a greater liberty in the observance of 
the Rule, follow ng as it does upon the command that the brethren obey their 
superiors " in all things they have promised the Lord to observe and which 
are not against their soul or our Rule ". 

Fr. Paschal Robinson in his translation of the Rule (vide The Writ- 
ings of St. Francis, p. 72) has inserted in brackets " tJie culprits," as though 
those having recourse had committed some fault ; whereas the brethren hav- 
ing recourse as implied in this chapter of the Rule are the brethren desirous 
of more perfect observance. Of. Gonformit. in Anal. Franc, pp. 422-3. 

- Spec. Perfect, cap. 71 ; Scrlpta Fr. Leonis, loc. cit. p. 97. 

3 II Celano, 188 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 41. 


seemeth to me," he said to his companion, " that I am not a 
true Friar Minor save I be in the state I will tell you. Be- 
hold the brethren with great devotion invite me to the Chap- 
ter, and moved by their devotion I go to the Chapter with 
them. And when they are gathered together they beseech me 
to announce the Word of God unto them and preach among 
them. And rising up I preach to them as the Holy Spirit shall 
have taught me. Now suppose when the preaching is ended 
that all cry out against me : We will not have you reign over 
us ; for you are not eloquent as is befitting, and you are too 
simple and unlearned and we are sore ashamed to have such 
a superior over us, so simple and despised : wherefore do not 
presume to be called our superior. And so they cast me out 
with contumely and disgrace. It seems to me I am no Friar 
Minor if I do not rejoice when they hold me of no account 
and oast me out with shame." ^ 

Thus he would keep himself fast in the spirit of the vo- 
cation he had vowed. Not as the lords of the earth but as 
the suffering Christ, would he overcome the evil which had 
arisen up against him. 

At the Pentecost Chapter of 1223 the question of a revised 
Bule was again discussed.^ Not unlikely Cardinal Ugohno 
had persuaded Francis of the necessity of recasting the Eule 
with a view to obtaining the final and solemn approbation of 
the Holy See. It was becoining more and more urgent that 
the fraternity should have a Eule weighted with an authority 
none of the brethren could call in question. 

' Spec. Perfect, cap. 6i. 

^Gf. Epistola III. " Ad quemdam Ministrimi," in Opuscula, p. 109 scq. This 
letter was evidently written in 1223; it alludes to "chapters in the Bule 
which speak of mortal sine," viz. — chapters v. xiii. and xx. of the Rule of 1221, 
and suggests an amendment which actually appears in the Rule of 1223. 


True, Innocent III had sanctioned the original Eule ; but 
his verbal approval in its very nature left the Eule in a transi- 
tional stage, and gave the brethren a legitimate freedom to 
modify or extend its provisions as experience should require, 
and subject to ecclesiastical authority to alter its character. 
That fact the learned ministers, experts in canon law, knew 
full well. Moreover, as it stood with its many additional re- 
gulations, the Eule could hardly claim to have received Papal 
sanction. Its authority therefore was a matter of doubt and 
debate, and the fraternity was consequently without a final 
legal appeal within itself. It had been different in the earlier 
years when the brethren had accepted the word of Francis in 
unquestioning faith ; but the governance by faith had now in 
large measure given place to the governance by law, and it 
was the more needful that the Eule should be definitely de- 
fined by the highest authority in the Church. 

But from a legal point of view the Eule of 1221 was open 
to objection. It was too diffuse a document, a patchwork, 
as we have seen, of the original Eule and capitular decrees 
and papal enactments and of lengthy admonitions ; and in its 
general character it set forth a prophetic vision of perfection 
rather than a workable code of discipline for the ordinary 
mortals who must enter into so vast a society : and without 
any doubt Cardinal Ugolino had urged upon Francis the need 
of giving to the Eule a more concise and legal form, such as 
the Holy See would require before giving its final approval.^ 

So once again Francis set himself to rewrite the Eule. 
Very tremulous was he at putting his hand to the Eule which 

1 Ugolino 's part in the final revision of the Rule is plainly indicated in 
the bull " Qiio elongati " of 28 September, 1230 (Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 68) : " In 
condendo prcedictain rcgulam obtinendo cmifirmationem ijpsius per Sedem Apos- 
tolicam, sibi astiterimiis ". 


he had already written, lest it should be like the irreverent 
touch of Oza upon the ark of the Lord. But one night whilst 
this trouble was upon him he dreamt that he had gathered 
from the ground tiny crumbs of bread with which to feed a 
hungry multitude of brethren. And so small were the crumbs 
that he feared lest in the distribution they would fall from his 
hands. Then a voice called out to him : Francis, make of all 
these crumbs one host and so feed those who wish to be fed. 
This he did : and as many of the brethren who would not 
receive the host, or, who having received, scorned it, were 
at once struck with leprosy. This dream puzzled Francis, 
for he felt that it was an answer to his prayer, and yet he 
could not tell its meaning. But the next day as he was again 
praying, he heard a voice, saying : " Francis, the crumbs of 
last night, are the words of the Gospel : the host is the Eule ; 
the leprosy is wickedness "? Francis took bis dream as a 
divine intimation that he must rewrite the Rule. 

But for this task he would retire far from the clamorous 
multitude. Taking with him two companions, Brothers Leo 
and Bonizzo, he left the Porziuncola and went to a secluded 
spot in the mountains near Eieti, known as Monte Rainerio.^ 
It was a wild rock-cavern far up the mountain side, reached 
by a precipitous pass. The mountain was densely wooded ; 
the cavern overlooked a wild dingle which lay far below where 
a mountain-stream rushed down a strong course. On the brow 
of the mountain was a house belonging to the Lady Columba, 
a pious widow, who gave Francis the freedom of her moun- 

1 II Celauo, 209 ; Leg. Maj. cap. iv. 2. 

' It is now known as Ponte Colombo, which name, I was told when I was 
there, is derived from Fundus Columhm, the estate of the Lady Columba. But 
in the Speculum Perfectionis the retreat of Francis on Monte Rainerio is named 
Eremitorum de Fonte Columbarum (capp. 67, 110, 115). 


tain estate, and supplied him with food, whilst respecting his 
wish for solitude. 

At Monte Kainerio nature is a veritable god of strength. 
There is in its aspect and in the view of the towering peaks 
which stretch away darkly into the Abruzzi, a sense of inde- 
structible might, most impressive in its majesty : and the 
vast stillness of its solitude is as the stillness of a massive soul. 
Perhaps it was this which drew Francis to seek refuge there 
in this crisis of his great trouble : for never did he need strength 
more than now. The Rule was written, Francis praying and 
fasting meanwhile; and afterwards he returned to the Por- 
ziuacola and dehvered what he had written to Brother Elias, 
the Vicar-General, that he might make it known to the minis- 
ters. Then happened a curious thing. After a few days 
Elias told Francis that the new Rule was lost through some- 
body's carelessness ! ' A most strange carelessness surely ; 
and one cannot but think that it was purposely destroyed, but 
whether by Elias or by some other, we cannot say. Nor does it 
matter who actually destroyed it : this only we can say without 
contradiction that Ehas and the dissident ministers would have 
none of it. The new Rule, if shorter in form than the Rule 
of 1221, yet contained all the provisions to which the ministers 
objected. Tiiey clamoured that the brethren should be al- 
lowed to receive and hold sufficient corporate property to safe- 
guard them against penury.- Other religious orders held 

' Leg. Maj. iv. 11 ; cf. Spec. Perfect, cap. 1 ; Verba S. Franc, no. 2, in 
Documenia Antiqua, ed. Lemmens, pars i. p. 101. St. Bonaventure saj'S that 
Elias "asserted it was lost through carelessness" — '* assereret per incuriavi 
perditam; " but the Spec. Perfect, and the Verba simply say it was lost, with- 
out casting any blame upon Elias. It is not improbable that the first draft 
of the new llule was written before the Pentecost Chapter, and that it was 
from Monte Bainerio that Francis wrote hia letter " ad cjuemdam ministrum," 
above referred lu. 

* Verba S. Franc, loo. cit. p. 101. 


property ; why not they ? Francis could but reply as he had 
always replied, that God had called them to follow Christ in 
the way of most high poverty such as he and the brethren had 
practised in the beginning, and that he would not prove a 
traitor to his calling. 

Again Francis went back to his retreat on Monte Eai- 
nerio, sad at heart because of this persistent opposition, and 
again with prayer and fasting he dictated to Brother Leo ^ 
the new Kule. But the ministers, now thoroughly disturbed, 
pursued him to his solitude, protesting they would not observe 
the Eule as he had written it. Francis met them with a 
righteous indignation in which scorn blended with sorrow, 
and bade them if they would not observe the Eule to leave 
the Order. ^ 

Now it is impossible to say exactly what rearrangement 
Francis made of the former Eule of 1221, in those suffering 
days on Monte Eainerio : for when the Eule was again 
written out he went with it to Eome to present it to 
Cardinal Ugolino before submitting it to the Pope for ap- 
proval, and it is possible that it was then that the Cardinal 
persuaded Francis to omit certain regulations to which the 
ministers objected. Most notable in the Eule as finally 
sanctioned is the omission of the chapter of the primitive 
Eule approved by Innocent III, which says in the words of the 
Gospel: "When the brethren travel through the world let 

'Of. Ubertino da Casaie, Arbor Vitae, lib. v. cap. 3 : " nam quod sequitur 
a sancto fratre Conrado prcedicto et viva voce atidivil a sancto fratre Leone qui 
presens erat et regulam scripsit ". 

"Of. Spec. Perfect, cap. 1; Verba S. Franc, loo. cit. pp. 101-2. See the 
aooount given in the Actus S. Franc, in Valle Beatina, a fifteenth century 
document, and published by M. Sabatier in Legenda Antiquissima, pp. 255-61. 
Of. Conformit. in Anal. Franc, iv. p. 516 ; Angelo Clareno, Expositio Ee- 
gulae, fol. 43 b. 


fchem carry nothing by the way, neither bag nor purse, nor 
bread, nor money, nor a staff," etc' This evangehcal ad- 
monition had more than any other been the formative 
influence of the Franciscan vocation ; it was the most com- 
plete expression of that subhme trust in the providence of 
God, upon which the Hfe of the fraternity was estabhshed, 
and from its observance came most of the characteristic 
traits in the primitive Franciscan story.^ Francis would not 
willingly have deleted such a chapter, and it could only have 
been at the Cardinal's urging that he was prevailed upon to 
do so ; and to overcome the scandal of the ministers' op- 
position.^ After all the Cardinal might point out, the Eule 
commanded absolute poverty, and in that precept this other 
was essentially contained. 

Other precepts Francis wished to insert in the new Eule 
which the ministers would not have. There was, for instance, 
a precept concerning the reverence due to the Blessed Sacra- 
ment. If the brethren on their journeys through the world 
should find the Blessed Sacrament reserved in unbecoming 
pyxes or tabernacles they were to admonish the priests to 
make a more honourable provision, and if the priests failed, 
the brethren were to do this in their stead. In practice such 
a rule would undoubtedly have caused friction between the 
friars and the clergy.^ But whether these regulations were 
omitted in the draft of the Eule which Francis brought with 
him from Monte Eainerio or were afterwards deleted, we 
cannot say. One chapter in the new Eule, however, seems 
to have been changed whilst it was under the examination of 

' Vide supra, p. 105. 

2 Cf. e.g. 3 Soo. cap. H ; Ghron. Jordani, in Anal. Fra/nc. i, no. 6, p. 3. 
8" Quia valde tiiimit scandalum in se etin fratres," saya the Spec. Perfect. 
cap. 2. 

* Spec. Perfect, cap. 65. 


the Holy See. Francis, in the tenth chapter, had given licence 
and obedience to the brethren to observe the Rule literally, 
even against the wishes of the ministers. But the Pope 
caused this chapter to be amended in this wise, that whilst 
the liberty to observe the Eule is retained, the obhgation to 
grant this liberty rests with the ministers, and the liberty is 
not at the discretion of the subjects themselves.^ 

And so after much patient travail of body and spirit on 
the part of Francis the new Eule was at last completed. As 
one reads it, one misses the exuberance of admonition and 
aspiration which were native to Francis : it is as though his 
spirit had been chastened. Of the essential principles of the 
vocation he surrendered nothing. The new Eule still binds 
the brethren to absolute poverty ; postulants on entering the 
fraternity must first distribute their goods to the poor ; the 
brethren must be content with poor garments ; they must be 
peaceful and humble and refrain from judging others ; they 
must work, yet so as not to extinguish in themselves the 
spirit of prayer, and in cases of necessity they must go ask- 
ing alms with confidence ; they must not own any house or 
lands or anything else but be as pilgrims and strangers in 
this world. 

All through it is still the same life set forth as of old : 

' Gf. Legenda Vetus, 2", in Opuscules de Critique, i. pp. 93-5. Already in 
the Rule of 1221 (cap. 6) it was laid down that the brethren who could not 
observe the Rule in some particular place should have recourse to the minister 
who was bound to provide for the brethren " sicut ipse vellet sibi fieri ". 
Practically the same regulation appears in the Rule of 1223, but with this 
difierence. The wording of the latter Rule, both as it bears on the liberty of 
the subject to have recourse and also on the duty of the minister to listen to 
the petition, is more emphatic. This more emphatic wording of the Rule of 
1223 is in favour of the authenticity of the story told iu Lege7ida Vetus. Of. 
Hist. VII. Trib. in Brhle, Archiv. in. p. 601. 



only, as we have said, set forth in a more chastened mood. 
Yet, wrought as it was in the crucible of sorrow and heart- 
pain, the Eule had gained perhaps a certain strength and 
durability even if it had lost something of its inspiring ideal- 
ism. We may say that it gives us more purely the essential 
Francis of all time if less of the historical Francis of a 
particular period. And with every law-giver whose law is a 
reflex of his own life, it is needful that the more essential self 
be separated from its immediate and transitory expression : so 
only will his law endure : and this separation is usually 
wrought in the fire of contradiction. So was it with Francis. 

The Eule was solemnly approved by Pope Honorius III 
on 29 November, 1223.^ 

Were the recalcitrant ministers satisfied '? It would seem 
not. Elias, the Vicar-General, as we know, refused to con- 
sider himself bound by it, claiming in after times that he had 
not made any profession of it ; ^ and some of the ministers 
so interpreted it as to cause Francis sorrow even to the end 
of his life. 

But now there gradually settled upon the spirit of Francis 
a great peace. Finally and irrevocably he had vindicated the 
right of absolute poverty for the children of God. 

One day as he was still sorrowing over the false brethren 
there came to his spirit this comfort from the Lord Christ ; 
" poor little man, why are you distressed? Have I so set 
you a shepherd over My religion that you know not that I 
am its chief Protector ? I set over it you, a simple man, to 
the end that those who will, may follow you in those things 
I work in you for an example to others. It is I who have 

' The text will be found in Sbaralea, Bull. i. pp. 15-19 ; Seraph. Legislat. 
Textus, pp. 35 srq. 

2 Eocleston [eJ. Little], col. xiii. p. 85. 


called them ; I who will keep and feed them ; and I will make 
good the falling away of some by putting others in their place, 
in such wise that if these others be not born I will cause them 
to be born. Be not therefore perturbed but work out thy 
salvation ; for even if the religion should come to but three 
members, yet through My gift shall it remain unshaken." ' 

Another time as he was praying in the chapel of the Por- 
ziuncola, this word came to his spirit: " Francis, if thou wilt 
have faith as a grain of mustard seed, thou shalt bid a moun- 
tain remove and it shall remove ". Francis asked : " Which is 
the mountain I should wish to remove?" The interior 
voice rephed : " The mountain is thy temptation ". And in 
tears Francis said : " Be it done unto me. Lord, as Thou 
hast said ".^ 

Thus was his spirit renewed in peace as when a man has 
battled with a great terror and the terror has vanished. 
Suffering did not pass from him, nor did the doings of the 
recalcitrant brethren commend them to him. Much that 
was passing in the life of the fraternity was to him as a 
dim mystery. But the fraternity, itself the pledge of the 
truth of that revelation of Poverty which was his life, would 
endure in the keeping of God : and with that assurance 
he was content. And now it remained for him to complete 
in himself this work of God, to the glory of Christ and as an 
example to those who willed to follow him. 

'II Oelano, 158; Spec. Perfect, cap. 8; Leg. Maj. cap. viri. 3. 

^Oelano, 115; Spec. Perfect, cap. 99. This "temptation of the spirit" 
which lasted "several years" according to Celano, and "more than two 
years " according to the Speculum Perfect. , evidently from the context happened 
in Francis' later years, and most likely was conceruod with his troubles with 
the ministers. 





Passing from the valley of Spoleto into the valley of Eieti 
to the south, the traveller is at once conscious of being in a 
new country, notwithstancling that in the maps the high 
mountain-bound district of Rieti is marked as a portion of 

There is a certain aloofness both in the character of the 
land and of the people ; an aloofness not at all unkindly. On 
the contrary, you will find there a genial hospitaHty, a de- 
sire to make the stranger at home. Yet is there a certain 
princely air in the way Eieti dispenses of its best, such as you 
frequently find amongst unconquered people of the hills. The 
ravages of war and foreign domination and incessant rebellion 
have not lain so heavily upon this upland valley as upon the 
more populous and suave valley of Spoleto to the north ; though 
Eieti too has seen foreign armies march through its mountain 
passes and along its open roads. But Eieti is somewhat apart 
from the main thoroughfares of the world, safeguarded by its 
height above the more level roads and by its natural ramparts 
of pass and peak. Nevertheless it is not too far apart. 
Through it in former days ran one of the main roads from 
Eome to the north ; and in its city the Popes had a palace 

"GRECCIO" 389 

and held court there when they sought a nerve-bracing at- 
mosphere away from the sultriness of Rome. But you feel 
sure, as the genius of the place comes home to your con- 
sciousness, that even Popes were welcomed here with a cer- 
tain sturdy simplicity, and that the Rietans, whilst able to 
appreciate the splendour and vivacity of the court, yet held 
to their mountain valley with a certain proud content. The 
court might come and go, a shadow from the outer world ; 
but the mountains and the valley were always there. It is 
strange how this sense of seclusion with mystic affinities to 
the world-life, grows upon you. Coming from the north, you 
are met at the very entrance to the hill-passes which divide 
the two valleys, by the boisterous waterfalls at Marmore, 
where the river Velino rushes down in a cloud of spray from 
the plateau beyond the hills into the lowland around Terni. 
If you have dwelt long enough in the valley of Spoleto to ab- 
sorb something of its historical reminiscences, and to feel the 
intensity and strength of the human life that has played its 
part there, you will suddenly halt at the rushing sound and 
majestic force of the waters ; for the moment you will be 
conscious that here is a new force, the force of nature, and 
as you look to the wall of hills beyond, the awe of that 
mysterious incalculable strength comes upon you. Then 
through a mountain-gorge you come to the Lago di Piediluco 
— or as the Franciscan chronicler calls it, the Lake of Rieti 
— closely enfolded by steep broken hills above which and be- 
yond you see the mountains ranging away to the clustering 
snow-capped peaks of the Abruzzi. A sailing boat is leisurely 
making its way across the still waters of the lake as I pass by : 
probably the boatman dwells in one of those white villages on 
the shore. 

Through the low hills you enter the upland valley, a wide 


cultivated amphitheatre closely engirdled by the massed 
mountains. The plain is flat save for a hillock here and 
there which you might take for a sheltering island vphen the 
mists lie on the ground. Far to the south is the gleaming 
city : but inexorably your eye will be drawn to the encom- 
passing mountains with their dark gorges and shadowy 
hollows and the occasional village clinging trustfully to some 
steep ascent. There is a great stillness in the bracing at- 
mosphere, and a curious sense of seclusion. You miss the 
long mysterious distances of the valley of Spoleto, which to 
north and south sweep past the sentinel hills ; you miss the 
fortress-cities and towns which make the great northern 
valley quick with the reminiscences of struggle and ambi- 
tion ; you miss the grey, treeless mountains which lie facing 
each other in two drawn-out lines, bidding each other a 
mutual defiance even in their rest. For here in Eieti the 
massed hills and mountain peaks seem as brothers-iu-arms 
guarding the plain which they encircle, as men guard the 
sanctity of their home. So jealously do they encircle it that 
you can hardly detect the passes which lead to the outer 
world ; yet withal do they guard it tenderly. On all the 
lower slopes the eye delights in the foliage of woods or in a 
Ijlossoming soil. Kugged and stony are the primitive paths 
by which you climb the hills, yet they lead to homesteads set 
in the midst of olives or of vines : and in all the valley the 
air is at once soft and bracing. In truth in this upland 
cloister, nature has sought to bind men to herself by a 
manifold attraction ; revealing at once her majesty and dire 
strength, her solicitude and providence, her lightsomeness 
and homeliness : as though by this varied revelation of 
beauty she would bring to them a complete detachment from 
the world beyond. No wonder that the peasant is strong 

"GllECClO" 391 

and blithesome, and that with a kindly humanity clearly indi- 
cated in his face and speech there is yet in his air a certain 
detached dignity and other- worldliness as of the mountain peaks 
above him. Nor do we wonder that Francis frequently 
sought shelter in this valley of Eieti amidst the stress and 
distractions of his busy apostolate ; nor that in the years of 
his great trouble it was hither he came to nerve himself for 
endurance and battle. And fitting, too, it was that this wide 
upland retreat should be associated intimately with those 
last years when with the expectancy of death in his mind, 
the clamours of the world were no longer able to disturb the 
deep peace which had now come to him. 

When Francis left Rome after the solemn approbation of 
the Eule by Honorius III, he felt that the supreme act of his 
ministry had been accomplished. He knew that in many 
ways the simplicity of the first years was gone ; but so far as 
he could, he had secured for all who loved the vocation of 
poverty, the liberty to follow it with the supreme sanction of 
the Church. And now he felt that beyond setting the good 
example, his task was finished : and in his new freedom he 
turned all-desiringly to the life hidden with Christ his Lord. 
From this time the world of men will but little disturb the 
soul of Francis : more and more he will be drawn into the 
embrace of the Beloved, and the voices of the earth will reach 
his spirit only through that mystic life which is the border- 
land of eternity. 

Christmas was now at hand. It was only two weeks to 
the sweet festival, and Francis was again in the valley of 
Eieti, probably in his rock-cell on Monte Eainerio ; and 
thither he had invited a friend, Giovanni da Vellita,i to come 

' S. Bouaventure (Leg. Maj. cap. x. 7) describes Giovanni as : " Miles 


to him. Giovanni lived at Greccio a few miles northward as 
you follow the road which leads to the lake. He had some 
years earlier met Francis out on one of his preaching tours, 
and had fallen under the spell of his spirit, and become one 
of his informal disciples. He was a man of some substance 
and owned land in his native district, and because he wished 
to induce Francis to dwell occasionally in the neighbourhood 
and also because he knew of Francis' love of solitary 
retreats, he had set aside for his use some caves in the high 
rock facing the town of Greccio and had built a rude hermit- 
age such as Francis loved, around the caves, where some 
brethren might dwell. Now the town of Greccio is con- 
structed as it were on a high rocky ledge within a wide 
hollow. It looks down upon comfortable homesteads and 
vineyards sheltered from the north wind by the bare 
mountain steeps. At the bend of the hollow opposite the 
town the bare rock falls perpendicularly to the lower slopes 
several hundred feet below. At the head of the rock is the 
hermitage given to the brethren by Giovanni ; but around 
the hermitage above the sheer fall of rock, the bareness of 
the mountain is relieved by warm sheltering woods. 

Francis knew the hermitage well, and now he had a long- 
ing to celebrate the Christmas festival there. In the peace 
which had come back to his soul, the world was again trans- 
figured with sacramental types ; and as he pondered this 
Advent season upon the mystery of Bethlehem, never before 
had he seemed to thirst so vehemently for the vision of Christ 
on earth. The sweetness of this Divine condescension had 
entered into his soul with a vital urgency , in spirit he gazed 

quidam virtuosus ct lerax, dui propter Chrisfi amorcin saculari relicta militia ." 
Prom this one might deduce that Giovanni was a Penitent Brother or as we 
aay now, a tertiary. 

" GHECCIO " 303 

upon the love-illumined poverty of the birth of his Lord ; and 
he longed even for bodily vision of what he had spiritually 
divined. In earthly form he would that he might behold this 
love-mystery, and thus wed heaven to earth in his apprehen- 
sion of it : thus would God become again a dweller amongst 
the things of time. 

So when Giovanni came, Francis said to him : " I would 
make a memorial of that Child Who was born in Bethlehem 
and in some sort behold with bodily eyes the hardships of 
His Infant state, how He lay in a manger on the hay, with 
the ox and the ass standing by. If you will, we shall celebrate 
this festival at Greccio and do you go before and prepare as 
I tell you ". Giovanni therefore went back to Greccio and in 
the wood near the hermitage he had a stable built, with a 
manger : and near the manger an altar. And Francis sent 
word to all the brethren in the valley of Eieti to join him at 
Greccio for the Christmas festival. 

Christmas eve came, and as the time for the midnight 
Mass drew near, the people from the town and from the hol- 
low, all flocked to the hermitage, carrying with them lighted 
torches which flicked weird shadows against the hill-side as 
men and women strode sturdily on : and when they gathered 
in a crowd around the stable all that side of the hollow 
seemed ablaze. Francis was the deacon at the Mass, his 
ministrations enthused with the rapture and solicitude of the 
Mother tending her Babe. But when after the Gospel he 
stood forth to preach, the crowd felt as though a hidden mys- 
tery was in very deed being revealed to their eyes : so subtly 
did the preacher convey to them his own vision of Bethlehem 
and set them throbbing with his own emotions.^ He seemed 

^ Pr. Paschal Robinson thinks Francis gained his special devotion to the 
Christmas mystery whilst on his visit to the Holy Land. It is very probable. 

394 LIPte OP ST. PEAl^CiS OF ASSlSl 

not to be conscious of the crowd before him, but to see only 
the Divine Babe in His mother's care, caressed by poverty 
and worshipped by simplicity. Tenderly he greeted the 
Divine Infant, calling Him "Child of Bethlehem" and 
"Jesus" and as he uttered the words, they lingered on his 
hps with surpassing sweetness; and at the word "Beth- 
lehem " he bleated forth the music of the name as though he 
were voicing the worship of the sheep on the Judean hillside. 
At times he would turn to the manger and bend over it 
caressingly. Giovanni, the builder of the crib, afterwards 
averred that he saw a child lying as it were dead in the 
manger, who awakened to life at Francis' touch. But all 
the people believed that that night Greccio had become 
another Bethlehem.' 

During the remaining days of that winter and far into 
the early spring, Francis would seem to have abided in this 
rocky hermitage ; not altogether, however, withdrawn from 
the company of men. For the same love which drew him 
ever nearer to Christ the Beloved in solitude, sent him forth 
again to impart to his fellow-men the gospel of Christ's re- 
deeming love. By the people of Greccio and the neighbour- 
hood he was revered as teacher and prophet. Many were the 

1 1 Celano, I, xxs. 84-86 ; II Celano, II, va. 35 ; S. Bonav. Leg. Maj. cap. x. 
7. S. Bonaventure says that Francis had previously obtained the Pope's pef- 
mission to construct the crib, " ne hoz novitaii posset ascribi ". From this it 
would seem that the " crib," in the form now so familiar in Catholic churches 
at (3hristmastide, was not then known, at least in Italy. Nativity " representa- 
tions," however, were known in France and England in the twelfth century and 
formed part of the lilurgical service on Chris'mas night in certain Cathedrals. 
A Repre-entatio Pastorum is mentioned in Lichfield Statutes, circa 1190. (Cf. 
Lincoln CatJiedral Statutes, ed. Bradshaw and Wordsworth, part ii. pp. 15, 23.) 
Shortly after Francis' death a chapel was built on the site of the crib. 
The chapel still exists; near it is a larger chapel built somewhat later. 
Recently a new church has been built overshadowing the rude simplicity of 
the ancient hemiitage with ambitious modernity. 

"GEECCIO" 395 

stories which in after years these grateful folk told of his 
doings amongst them, how he delivered them from the 
ravages of wolves and from pestilences which had brought 
dread and sorrow into their homes, and from the hailstorms 
which had beaten down their vineyards, and so had given 
them a period of happiness ; and how this happiness had 
continued as long as they remembered to serve God as 
Francis had taught them, but was taken from them again 
when they forgot his teaching and went back to evil ways.^ 
They remembered, too, how on one occasion he had suddenly 
left them and set out for Perugia, the proud city to the 
north. For Francis had learned in prayer that the t'erugians 
were letting armed bands loose upon their neighbours in 
very lust of strife and domination : and in his compassion 
he hurried forth to end the misery. But the people of Perugia 
would not hsten to his appeal. Then did Francis foretell that 
within a short while they would be at feud amongst themselves 
and that sorrow and death should come upon them. And so 
it befell. 2 But this story probably belongs to an earlier 
period in Francis' history. 

Thus now in active ministry for souls, now in prayerful 
seclusion, did Francis find his peace — the peace of absorption 
in the life of the God-Man who had drawn to Himself all 
the desire of His worshipping disciple. To be with Christ, 
whether in Bethlehem or Nazareth or on the public road or 
on the cross of Calvary — that had long been all his thought ; 
and now he seemed to be entering into a realization more in- 
timate than even he would have dared to ask for. Love had 

1 Of. II Oelano, vii. 35, 36. 

''II Oelano, II, vii. 37. The Perugiana were constantly fighting amongst 
themselves. W. Heywood {A History of Ferugia, pp. 35-7) mentions three 
notable civil wars, respectively in 1214, 1218 and 1223. 


regained its liberty in his soul and with all the purer ardour 
and fullness because of the night of trial in which his faith 
had been tested. And here in the homely neighbourhood of 
Greccio he was tasting the first sweets of his liberty re- 

The Easter festival found him still in this sacred retreat. 
Amidst all the glorious hopes of the life to come with which 
the mystery of that day filled the soul of Francis, his heart 
turned clingingly to the earthly price by which they were won. 
Heaven had been gained for men only through the self- 
effacement of Him who being the world's God, yet made 
Himself a mere stranger and pilgrim upon the earth : and in 
the urgency of his love Francis in spirit was a pilgrim with 
his Lord. 

Coming to the refectory of the brethren on that Easter 
day, he found the table laid with unwonted luxury — with 
table-cloths and cut-glass and the other appointments of a 
comfortable home, lent for the occasion by some friend of 
the brethren . for the brethren had thought to honour the 
festival in this fashion. But this symbolism of an abiding 
home, was out of accord with Francis' vision of his pilgi-im 
Lord. Gently yet emphatically did he therefore play the 
part of the pilgrim-Christ. Waiting till the brethren had 
begun their meal, he appeared at the door of the refectory, 
with a poor man's hat on his head and a staff in his hand, 
pilgrim wise ; and called out : " For the love of the Lord 
God give alms to this poor sick pilgrim". The brethren 
hearing the call, bade him enter. Then Francis took a dish 
from the table and after the manner of a lowly servitor, sat 
on the ground. " Now I am seated like a Friar Minor," he 
said, addressing the abashed assembly, " When I saw the 
table so well laid and adorned, I bethought me that it was 

" GEECCIO " 397 

not the table of men who beg their bread from door to door. 
More than all other religious should we be constrained by 
the poverty of the Son of God." And the brethren, at 
least some of them, took the lesson to heart ; one of them 
even wept aloud : for it seemed to them that like the dis- 
ciples on the road to Emmaus, Christ had been with them 
and yet they had not known Him.^ 

In truth, to the eyes of those who were with him and who 
loved him, Erancis was at this time being caught up more 
and more into the semblance of Him whom his soul loved ; 
and more and more the earth they trod with him became 
transfigured in their thought, as though they were indeed 
living with the Lord Christ Himself in His sojourn upon the 
earth : so irresistibly were they compelled by Francis' own 
absorption to walk in the company of the Lord. Perhaps to 
those of them who had stood by and ministered to him in 
his days of trial, there came a sense of loneliness as they felt 
his spirit being thus withdrawn from the need of their 
ministrations by the caress of the Divine Love, and a sweet 
sadness would at times mingle with their worshipful rever- 
ence : for they knew they could but stand at the door of the 
sanctuary into which he was entering. And yet because 
they loved him so well their hearts would be uplifted with a 
triumphant gladness : and after all he was j^et so near them. 
Amidst the homesteads and sheltered ways of Greccio and 
the Eieti plateau they could not but feel that he was in an 

' Cf. II Celano, 61; Jnq. Maj. cap. vii. ; Spec. Peifect. [ed. Sabatier], 
cap. 20. In the Spec. Ferfect. this incident is related as happening on 
a Christmas day; but Celano and St. Bonaventure both put it at the Easter 
festival and point to the motive indicated in the text. It is not at all im- 
probable, as M. Sabatier has suggested (I.e. p. 41, n. 1), that similar incidents 
happened on other occasions; for Francis never hesitated to repeat liimself. 
Cf. II Celano, 200. 


intimate sense at home with them. And when the time of 
the Pentecost Chapter drew nigh and they must sally forth 
once again into the world's highway, they doubtless looked 
with impatient expectancy to a coming back to Greccio. 

Francis was indeed to return to the valley of Eieti ; but 
not immediately. That was to happen in the meanwhile which 
would put a wondrous seal upon his transfiguration : and 
when he did return, Brother Leo, his faithful friend and dis- 
ciple, understood better the mystery which had been brood- 
ing over Francis during those winter months of peace. 



It was in the month of September that the mysterious event 
occurred which was to set indehbly the seal of his Hfe's 
passion upon the body of Francis as it was already set upon 
his soul. 

About the middle of June he had attended the Pentecost 
Chapter-' — a Chapter to be noted by Englishmen inasmuch 
as Brother Agnellus of Pisa, a man altogether after Francis' 
own heart, was then commissioned to establish the Order of 
Friars Minor in England. The story of the .coming of 
Agnellus and his brethren has been many times retold in 
these later days ; and how with skilful impetuosity they pushed 
on before the close of the year to Canterbm-y, London, and 
Oxford, and won from the inhabitants a cordial and abiding 
place for the friars in their midst.^ 

They landed at Dover on the tenth day of September, 

' Pentecost fell in 1224 on 11 June. 

^Cf. Ecoleston, De Adventu FF. Min. m Angliam, first published by Brewer 
in Mon. Franciscana, i. after the Cotton and York codices. A fragment after 
the Lamport codex was published by Hewlett in Mun. Franciscana, ii. An 
edition based on these published texts was published in Anakcta Franciscana, 
I. ; and a new edition was published in Mon. Germ. Script, xxxiii. But the de- 
finitive edition has been given by Prof. A. G. Little in Collectwns des jStucks, 
torn. VII. Of. also " The Chronicle of Tlwmas uf Ecclesion," translated by the 
present writer ; Tlie Coming of the Friars, by Dr. Jessop. 



1224 ; ^ they heard the bells of Canterbury calling the people 
to Mass on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, 
four days later ; and perhaps to the heart of Agnellus keeping 
an early vigil, there came some intimation of the miracle 
which was happening to him whom he loved so well. 

Not by fortuitous chance had Francis some time before 
the feast of the Assumption of our Lady, gone to Monte 
Alvernia, the high mountain retreat which the lord Orlando 
had many years before set apart for the use of the brethren. 
Something there was in his soul which made him wistful for 
the uttermost seclusion ; and for the seclusion of great 

For the time the sweet homeliness of Greccio would have 
been an imprisonment to his soul, and the battle-traiuing at- 
mosphere of Monte Eainerio would have jarred with the sense 
of the mystery which was upon him. His spirit was drawn 
to a rarer atmosphere ; it called for a sublimer aloofness from 
the world of men. So to Monte Alvernia Francis now went, 
which is so far apart from and above the world's highways, 
and where the silence is of the skies and the very air so keen 
and rare. 

Even to-day when a good road has been built to carry the 
pilgrim up the long ascent and a spacious friary crowns the 

1 Wadding (Annales, ad an. 1220) following the Chron. xxiv. Gen., says 
Agnellus was sent to England by the Chapter of 1219, and actually arrived in 
1220. Hat Eocleston says distinctly : Anno Domini H'CC'IIIJ" temiMre 
doinini Ilonorii papcB . . . feria S" post festum nativitatis heatm Virginia qiwd 
illo anno fuit die dominica. Cf. Eccleston [ed. Little], p. .3. Both the 
Chronicle of Lanercost [ed. Stevenson, p. 30] and the Annals of Worcester 
[Annales Movast. iv. p. 416], give the same year 1224, as Eccleston. The 
probability therefore is that Agnellus was actually commissioned by the 
Chapter of 1221 and not by the Chapter of 1219: since he would hardly have 
allowed five years to elapse before fulfilling his commission : such a delay 
would have been in disaccord with the custom of the brethren. 

The stigmata 401 

summit, Alvernia is awe-inspiring in its remoteness from the 
meeting-places of the world. Far away are towns and 
villages which are but blurs in the landscape below. A rich 
foliage clothes the lower heights, giving comfort to the plain ; 
but above this the mountain-sides are bare and rocky, 
desolate of human comfort : only on the top do the trees 
again appear, casting a grateful shadow in the sunlight. 
And all around, as far as the eye can see, are towering peaks 
gazing upon the sky ; a multitude they are, yet v?ith wide 
distances between as though each were strong to stand alone 
in the wide encompassing space : and, as we have said, the 
air is keen and there is the silence of great height. 

To accompany him on his journey and to be the com- 
panions of his vigil, Francis chose only his most trusted dis- 
ciples. There was Leo, the little lamb of God, most trusted 
of all ; there were besides, Angelo Tancredi, the courteous 
knight, and Masseo the friend of many journeys, and 
Euffino and Silvestro the contemplatives, and Illuminato who 
had been with him in his crusade in the East, and, as I 
think, Bonizzo, who had tended him in his trial at Monte 

As yet however he was wholly unaware of the happening 
which was to be : this only he knew, that the aspiration of 
long years was receiving a fulfilment and that a new revela- 

' Bonizzo was cited as a special witness to the stigmata by Jolm of 
Parma at the General Chapter of Genoa (cf. Eceleston, ed. Little, coll. 
XIII. pp. 93-4). Eceleston does not say he was actually with Francis on 
Monte Alvernia, but we know that he was one of Francis' companions in his 
last years. Eceleston tells us that Euf&no was on Monte Alvernia at the time 
of the stigmata (I.e.) ; Leo, Masseo, Angelo and Illuminato are named in the 
Fioretti, Delle sacre sante Stimate, iii. Consid. Silvestro is mentioned in 
L' Addio di san Francesco. St. Bonaventure {Leg. Maj. xiii. 4) also mentions 
Illuminato. Vide infra, passim. 



tion of the Lord Christ was upon him. On the day of his 
arrival he had chosen a cell apart from the cells of the other 
brethren ; a rude hut under a beech tree. Here he proposed 
to submit himself to the will of his Lord, undisturbed by 
human intrusions : only Brother Leo was to come to him at 
stated times to bring him a little bread and water for his 
bodily refreshment and to assist him spiritually with priestly 
ministrations. The other brethren were to abide apart, to 
comfort him with their prayers and to keep secular folk 
who might visit the spot, from approaching the " secret 
bower" where God was communing with His servant.' 

Now began that series of Divine manifestations which 
was to make Alvernia a holy mountain in the eyes of the 
Christian people. 

One day as Francis was standing by his cell under the 
beech tree and wondering at the curious conformation of the 
mountain which at its summit is split into great fissures by 
some momentous cataclysm, Francis was rapt in prayer. 
" Then," says a chronicler, " it was revealed to him by God 
that these fissures so wonderful, were miraculously wrought 
in the hour of Christ's passion when as the Evangelist says, 
the rocks were rent asunder." ^ From that moment Alvernia 
was holy ground to Francis : it became to him a speaking 
witness to the Passion of his Lord. And with this intimation 
there came to him some dim understanding of the mystery 
in his soul : and thereat his soul grew more aflame with love 
of his Crucified Master : and from this time he became more 
insensible to the external world and more rapt in contempla- 
tion. Oftentimes Brother Leo coming to visit him would find 
him in ecstasy lifted above the earth, his body yielded to the 
impulse of the spirit; and then Leo's soul would overflow 

' Fioretti, Ddlc sacre sanle stimate, ii. Consid. ^Fioretti, loc. cit, 


with affection and reverence and at times drawing nigh 
timidly he would kiss the feet of Francis, beseeching God, 
as he did so, to have mercy upon his own unworthiness and 
in spite thereof to give him a share in Francis' grace. 

But one day when the feast of the Assumption drew near, 
Francis bade Leo go and stand at the door of the oratory of 
the brethren ; and himself going to a distance, he called to 
Leo who at once responded. Whereupon Francis went still 
further away and again called to Leo, and this time Leo did not 
hear the call. Then coming back, Francis told Leo that he 
proposed to abide during the approaching Lent of St. Michael, 
which begins the day after our Lady's feast, in a more secluded 
spot near where he had stood when Leo could not hear his call. 
The spot chosen was on a ledge of rock which stood out from 
the body of the ground, divided from it by a deep chasm. On 
the other side the rock falls sheer down a hundred feet or 
more to the sloping ground. They bridged the chasm with 
a plank and constructed a wicker cell and then Francis gave 
Leo and the other brothers his instructions for the guarding 
of his retreat. None were to come nigh save Leo who was 
to bring him a portion of bread and water each day and to 
come again at the midnight hour for matins : but even Leo 
must not cross the bridge over the chasm unless Francis 
answered his signal ; and the signal was these opening words 
of the matins-service : Domine labia mea aperies. And if 
Francis did not reply Leo must go away quickly and not 
cross the bridge.^ 

Alone on his rocky ledge, Francis now entered into that 
purgatory of the soul which precedes the more intimate 
unions of man with God. At times his spirit would be op- 
pressed and the powers of evil would seem to be let loose 

' Fioretti, loo. cit. 
26 * 


to torment him even with bodily violence, testing the tenacity 
of his spirit. It was the ultimate temptation of the strong, 
when evil is no longer felt as a personal weakness but as an 
objective reality, the more terrifying because so foreign to 
one's own desire. Then it is that the soul most needs un- 
wavering faith and trust in the reality of the heavenly good : 
to stand firm in such temptation is man's highest act of 
worship, the complete submission of himself to God. In 
such temptation the body suffers even with the spirit and 
the whole man is cast into the crucible. So was it now 
with Francis. Once when Leo came to him Francis held 
him in conversation, seeking comfort : " If the brethren did 
but know," he pathetically exclaimed, "how many and how 
gi'ievous are the anguishes and afflictions which the devils work 
upon me, there is not one of them but would be moved with 
pity and tenderness towards me."^ But alternating with 
combat and suffering, there came to Francis moments of clear 
vision when heaven opened to him its secret, and at times the 
very sweetness of the life eternal entered into his soul and 
filled him with ravishing joy. One day as he was meditating 
upon the joy of the Blessed and thirsting for a share in it, 
there appeared to him an angel of God in great splendour. 
A spirit of music it must have been, for with a viol which he 
carried, he uttered music of such sweetness, that Francis 
lost all bodily sense. ^ 

Nor must we forget to relate how in his solitude Francis 
was much comforted by the friendship of a falcon whose 
nest was near his cell. For the falcon attached itself to 
him, abiding near him in his prayer, and singing meanwhile 
its own song of praise : and at midnight when it was time 

' Spec. Perfect, [ed. Sabatier], cap. 99. 

" Fioretti, loo. cit. A somewhat similar incident is related in II Celano, 126 


for Francis to rise for matins, the bird would flutter against 
his cell until he arose. And for that falcon Francis had a 
great love.^ 

Meanwhile upon Brother Leo, the faithful keeper of his 
master's retreat, there fell a tender awe and fear, knowing as 
he did the trouble through which Francis was passing and 
divining some great heavenly favour at hand. One night 
when he came to the bridge and called aloud " Domine labia 
mea aperies," no answer came, and for once the fear in his 
soul made him disregard the injunction to go back and not 
pass the bridge. Crossing over to the cell, he found it empty 
and went on to a wooded spot where he thought Francis 
might be. There indeed Francis was. In the moonlight 
Leo saw him kneeling in prayer with face and arms uplifted 
towards heaven, and heard him repeating with fervour : 
" Who art Thou, my most sweet God ? Who am I, a most 
vile worm and Thy useless servant?" And Leo knew that 
he was a witness to some intimate colloquy between Francis 
and his Lord : but what the colloquy portended Leo could 
not understand. But looking on amazed, he saw a flame 
resting over the head of Francis who three times extended 
his hand towards it. And after awhile, which seemed to 
Leo a great age, the flame returned to heaven. Then in 
terror at his intrusion Leo began to move away as softly as 
he might. But Francis hearing his footsteps upon the 
leaves, called to him not to go away : whereat Leo was in 
such fear and shame that he wished the earth would open 
and swallow him. But chiefly he feared lest because of his 
disobedience Francis would relieve him of his attendance : 
and at that thought the heart of Leo became a great void, 

' Fioretli, loo. oit. ; I Celano, 168 ; Tract, de Mirac. 25 ; Leg. Maj. 
VIII. 10. 


But Francis, divining his trouble and the love which had 
conquered his will to obey, rebuked him but gently and kept 
him by his side. Emboldened at such gracious tenderness, 
Leo asked Francis to explain the meaning of that Divine 
visitation, and then he learned that the words he heard were 
the protest of Francis' humility because our Lord Christ had 
asked of him so unworthy, three gifts. And the Lord had 
Indden him three times put his hand to his bosom : and each 
time Francis had found there a ball of gold, which he offered, 
at first not understanding the mystery ; but Christ had told 
him that these balls of gold were the virtues of poverty, 
chastity and obedience which were in the heart of Francis.' 
Then when they had spoken of these things, Francis went 
with Leo to the oratory where Mass was said : there Francis 
cast himself upon the ground before the Altar and prayed that 
God would make known to him His will concerning the 
mystery which lay upon him. And when he had prayed he 
signed himself with the sign of the cross ; then wistfully bade 
Leo take the book of the Gospels from the altar and read the 
first passage upon which his eye ahghted. 

The passage was one which relates how it behoved 
Christ to suffer. A second and third time Leo opened the 
book at Francis' bidding, and each time the reading con- 
cerned the passion of our Lord. Gently and with joy Francis 
submitted to what he believed was an indication of the 
Divine Will : by suffering he too must come into the King- 
dom of God, even as it was with his Lord : and into his soul 
there came a great longing to share in the passion of Christ 
and to have in himself that divine love which impelled Christ 
to suffer for men.= 

' Fioretti, loc. cit. iii. Consid. 

^Fioretti, loo. cit. ; II Celano, 92, 93; Leg. Mai. xiii. 2 


With this prayer in his heart Francis awakened one morn- 
ing about the feast of the Holy Cross — or as some say, on the 
very day of the Holy Cross. ^ One chronicler tells us that 
on the previous day v?hilst Francis was praying in his cell, 
an angel had appeared to him and had bidden him prepare 
himself to suffer patiently what God was about to work in 
him ; and Francis had replied that he was willing to receive 
patiently whatever it would please his Lord to do unto him.^ 
But whether the angel appeared to his bodily sense or made 
his presence felt by the inner understanding, is not said. Yet 
this we may well believe that to the soul of Francis there 
came some Divine intimation of that which was now to 
happen to him. Francis, then, was kneeling at his morning 
prayer on this day of days when he saw in vision a strange 
form coming towards him, whereat he was much terrified.^ 
But as this strange thing came near and stood on a stone 
above him he saw one who was a man and yet a Seraph. 
His arms were extended and his feet conjoined, and his body 
was fastened to a cross. Two wings were raised above his 
head, two were extended as in flight and two covered the 
body,* But the face was beauteous beyond all earthly 
beauty ; and yet it was the face of suffering. And at that 
Francis was filled with great joy because of the beauty of 

'S. Bonaventure (Lej. Jkfa;. xiu. 3) says: " Qimdammane circa festum Ex- 
altationis sanctts crucis " . The Ghron. xxiv. Gen. {Anal. Praiic. iii. p. 30): 
" Circa festum Exaltationis sanctce crucis vel ut in quodaiii revelations divina, in 
eodeynfesto ". This revelation is evidently that mentioned in the Instrumen- 
tum de Stigmatibus compiled by Brother Philip, Provincial of Tuscany, by com- 
mand of the Minister-General, in 1283. Yide Anal Franc, in. p. 37i; and pp. 
Qil seq. The Fioretti says : " Viene il di segueneti, cioiil di della santissima 
Croce ", Celauo gives no indication of the day. 

^ Fioretti, loo. cit. 

2 Leg. Maj. xiii. 3 ; Bccleston [ed. Little], col. xiii, p. 93. 

* Compare the description of the Seraphim in Isaias vi. 2. 


that face ; and then with exceeding pity and sorrow because 
of the pain and suffering which was there.^ Suddenly in a 
moment of great agony the Seraph smote him as it were in 
body and soul, so that Francis was in great fear ; and yet 
again the Seraph spoke to him as a friend making clear 
many things which hitherto had been hidden from him : as 
he afterwards told his companions.^ And then after a 
moment which seemed an age,^ the vision disappeared. 

When Francis came to himself, his first thought was one 
of perplexity as to what this vision could mean ; for he knew 
that no heavenly spirit can suffer mortal pain. In this per- 
plexity of mind he rose from his knees and stood pondering 
amazedly : whilst still in his soul was the mingled sorrow 
and joy of the vision. As he stood thus, the meaning was 
made clear : for in the body of Francis appeared the marks of 
the crucified Seraph : in his hands and feet were the scars of 
wounds and in the scars were the impressions of nails, so 
formed that they might be taken for the nails of the cross ; the 
round heads black in appearance, protruding in the palms of 
the hands and on the insteps of the feet ; whilst on the back 
of the hands and on the soles of feet were the bended points 
of the nails : and his right side was as though pierced by a 
lance.* The Seraph of the vision was the spirit of the Crucified 

' I Celano, II, iii. 94 ; Celano, de Miraculis, ii. i ; Leg. Maj. loo. cit. ; 
Fiorctti, loo. oit. 

-Cf. Bocleston [ed. Little], xiii, p. 93. 

' Fioretti, loo. cit. : " Disparendo duyiqne questa visione mirabile dopo 
grande spazio ". 

* Celano, loo. cit. ; Leg. Maj. loo. cit. ; Fioretti, loo. oit. For deaoription of 
the stigmata see also the letter of Brother Ellas to Gregory of Naples \Tritten 
to announce the death of St. Francis (Boehmer, Analekten, p. 90). See also 
the attestations of Gregory IX in his letters " Nonminus dulcnles " and " Cum 
sceculi vanitate" in Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 213 seq. 


suffering through love, which now had taken entire possession 
of God's dear poor one ; ' of which possession the external 
marks were the sign and seal. 

Now at this happening Francis was alone in his solitude : 
not even Leo being present ; ^ and at first he thought never 
to reveal to any man this wonderful thing which had come to 
him : even as every true man will jealously hide the most 
precious gift to his heart, not speaking of it even to his friends. 
And then again he was in doubt for that it was impossible al- 
together to hide this manifest sign from those who were most 
with him ; and because it was thus manifest, would he be 
setting himself against the Will of God and taking wholly to 
himself what God had meant perhaps for a sign and comfort 
to others ? Thus he knew not whether he should speak or 
remain silent. But at length he called to him his companions 
and in general terms set this question to them, whether one 
should reveal or hide a favour which God had granted him. 

' S. Bonaventure, ut supra, says it was Christ sub sped Seraph who ap- 
peared to Pranois. Celano in Legenda Prima (loo. cit.) speaks rather vaguely ; 
" vidit in visione Dei virum unum rpiasi seraphim sex. alas habentem," but in the 
Tractatus de Miraculis he aaya more positively: " vidit in visione Seraph in 
crucc posifum ". It is curious to note the difference in treatment of the story of 
the stigmata between the earliest paintings and those of Giotto and his suc- 
cessors. In the former the saint is alone, standing up amid trees and flowers 
indicative of a wood ; in the latter, the saint is generally depicted kneeling, 
with Brother Leo near at hand, and upon rocky ground. It is, however, to be 
noted that the marks of the stigmata, as Celano expressly says, appeared after 
the vision, when Francis had risen up and whilst he was pondering on the 
significance of what he had seen. Another difference is that in the earliest 
paintings the Seraph has the conventional face of a Seraph, whereas in the 
later paintings, it is the face of our Lord. It is the difference between Celano 
and S. Bonaventure. Of. Matrod, Deux Emaux Franciscains au Louvre. 

^ Had Leo been present Celano would surely have adduced him as a wit- 
ness to so wonderful an event. Moreover, S. Bonaventure {Leg. Maj. xiii. 4) 
implies that none of the saint's familiar companions (socii faviiliares) knew 
of what had happene4- 


Whereupon Illuminato saw that Francis spoke as one much 
amazed, and divined that something extraordinary had 
happened : so he replied : " Brother, thou knowest that not 
for thyself alone are the heavenly secrets revealed to thee, 
but for others also. Therefore is it to be feared that if thou 
dost hide v^hat thou hast received for the profit of many, thou 
wilt be judged guilty of the hidden talent."^ Then shyly and 
as by constraint Francis told the brothers of the vision and 
the stigmata ; adding that the Seraph had told him many 
things of which he could not speak. Yet he kept hidden from 
their sight the marks in his body, covering his hands and 
feet with his tunic. Only to Leo did he willingly bare his 
wounds, when because of the pain and the bleeding he must 
needs have them bound with bandages.^ 

But to Euf&no the contemplative, Francis spoke intim- 
ately of some of the things that had been revealed to him 
concerning the Order, in the moment of the vision ; namely, 
that the hfe and profession of the Friars Minor should never 
fail even to the day of judgment ; also that no one who malici- 
ously persecuted the Order would have a long hfe ; that no evil 
person wishing to live wickedly, could long remain in the Or- 
der ; and that whosoever loved the Order from his heart, how- 
ever great a sinner he might be, should at last find mercy.^ 

Now seeing how God had dealt with him, Francis' heart 
was filled with unutterable gratitude; and even the very ground 
became sacred and precious to him. And the remembrance of 
that smiting by the Seraph filled him always with renewed 

1 Leg. Maj. xiii. 4 ; Fioretti, loo. cit. 

"^Fiorelti, loc. cit. ; Ohron. xxiv. Gen. in Anal. Franc, in. p. 68. 

■' Spec. Perfect, [ed. Sabatier], cap. 79. Eccleston, loo. cit. Of. Fioretti, 
HI. Oonsid., where the promises are ampliiied and include this, that the breth- 
ren who observed the Rule perfectly, will at their death enter into eternal life 
without passing through purgatory. 


wonder: so had the angel dealt with the patriarch Jacob 
of old, smiting him into submission to His will. Then Fran- 
cis, because he was unable to perform the act himself on 
account of his wounds, bade Ruffino consecrate the stone 
upon which the Seraph had stood, even as Jacob had con- 
secrated the stone of his vision, washing it and anointing it 
with oil : ' and from that day that stone has been held sacred 
by all the generations of the brethren.^ 

But because his heart was full, he must needs utter in 
words what his soul felt, constrained by a poet's need : and 
yet because of the strangeness of this mystery and the fear 
which was still upon him, his tongue was held and he could 
speak but haltingly in borrowed words. So taking parch- 
ment and pen he wrote this psalm, which a 'later generation 
of men styled " The Praise of the Most High God " : though 
as you will see, it had more fittingly been styled, " The 
Praise of the Crucified": — 

Thou art the Holy Lord God ; Thou art God of gods, Who alone 

workest marvels. 
Thou art strong, Thou art great, Thou art most high ; Thou art 

almighty, Thou holy Father, King of heaven and earth. 
Thou art threefold and one ; Lord God of gods. 
Thou art good, every good, the highest good ; the Lord God, living 

and true. 
Thou art love, charity ; Thou art wisdom ; Thou art humility. 
Thou art patience ; Thou, fortitude and prudence. 
Thou art security, Thou art rest ; Thou art joy and gladness. 

1 Ecoleston, loc. cit. Later writers attribute this act to Leo (of. Anal. 
Franc, ni. p. 67) but Ecoleston had the story from Peter of Tewkesbury who 
had it from the lips of Loo himself. 

-It is encased in a grille in the Chapel of the Stigmata : and on it is this 
inscription: "Hie signasti Doiiiine, servum tiinm Franciscum " . Twice a day 
after matins and vespers the friars proceed to the chapel in solemn procession 
and venerate this sacred spot. 


Thou art justice and temperance; Thou art all our wealth and 

Thou art beauty^ Thou art gentleness ; Thou art the protector ; 

Thou art the keeper and the defender. 
Thou art our refuge and strength ; Thou art our faith, hope, and 

Thou art our great sweetness ; Thou art our eternal Ufe. 
Infinite Goodness, great and wonderful Lord God Almighty : loving 

and merciful Saviour.' 

Thus in the strength of his joy, Francis sang his Magnificat. 
It has often been said that those who are nearest to God, 
are nearest to the hearts of their fellow-men : and of this we 
have an instance in Francis in this day of his exaltation. For 
whilst he was being thus fashioned in the likeness of his Lord 
and enduring both the pain and the sweetness of the fashion- 
ing, Brother Leo, that faithful friend and servitor, was passing 
through a trial of his own, hard to endure. Out of his very 
famiharity with Francis had come his trial. He had witnessed 
the agony through which the master he worshipped, was pass- 
ing to his glory; he had caught some glimpse of life of the 
elect. And then there had come upon him this doubt : how 
could he, so unworthy and so mean, stand beside this holy 
one of God or ever hope to attain to the eternal life? And 
Leo's heart was heavy almost to despair. At one moment he 

'^ OpiLsaila S. Franc. (Quaracchi), p. 124; 'Boehiaex , Analekten, p. 66; 
The Seraphic Keepsake, by Eeginald Balfour, p. 54. The original autograph is 
preserved in the sacristy of the Sagro Convento, Assisi. On one side of the 
sheet are written the Praises; on the other the Blessing of St. Francis given 
to Brother Leo (vide infra). Cf. Fr. Paschal Eobinson, Writings of St. 
Francis, pp. 146-9. 

Mr. Balfour (loo. oit. p. 52) has pointed out the inadequacy of the con- 
ventional title given to the Praises. He says : " This title is misleading, 
because in the ' Praise of God Most High,' Saint Francis does not dwell with 
any special emphasis upon that aspect of Almighty God, which humanity 
sums up in the word 'Creator'. . . . Saint Francis addresses . . . in a word, 
the loving and merciful Saviour". 


would determine to cast himself upon the pity of Francis ; 
but again he drew back, fearing with inconsequent fear lest 
Francis should reject him ; and then he were lost indeed. Then 
in his agony of soul he thought that if only Francis would 
write with his own hand some words of Holy Scripture which 
had come to Leo as a promise of day, and give him the writ- 
ing, it would be to him a token of God's favour and something 
to hold to in his desolation. And yet even this he feared to 
ask : dreading the awful climax of a refusal. But in this 
hour of his own joy, when Francis was writing his Praises 
of the Crucified Saviour, there came to his receptive heart 
an understanding of the soul of Leo abiding mutely beside 
him. And when he had written those Praises, turning the 
parchment over, he inscribed these words of Holy Writ : — 

The Lord bless thee and keep thee. 

The Lord show His face to thee and have mercy upon thee. 

The Lord turn His countenance to thee and give thee peace.^ 

And beneath these words and to give them a personal applica- 
tion Francis v^rote : — 

Brother Leo may our Lord bless thee. 

And then not content till he had made this message complete, 
he drew beneath the blessing the rude figure of a head and 
upon this, yet so drawn as to pass through the letters of Leo's 
name, he drew the sign Thau. 

Then Francis gave the parchment to the suffering Leo, 
saying : " Take this sheet and carefully keep it by thee till the 
day of thy death ". And to his amazement Leo saw written 
there the very words he had desired to be written ; and there 
too he saw himself marked with the sign of the elect. And 

'Numbers vr. 24-6. The translation ia according to the Vulgate, as was 
the Latin text inscribed by Francis. 


at that moment the dread of despair vanished from his soul ; 
nor did it ever return.^ 

Francis abode on Monte Alvernia until after St. Michael's 
feast.^ On the day of his departure the lord Orlando came 
from his castle of Ghiusi to bid him farewell ; and an ass 
being brought, Francis was placed upon it ; and with Brother 
Leo in attendance and a peasant, the owner of the ass, he 
began his journey back to the Porziuncola. But before 
starting Francis called to him his companions of these un- 
forgettable days and bade them abide in charity and be 
constant in prayer and have a care of this holy mountain. 
Then whilst the brethren were weeping because of his parting 
and the tenderness of his words, Francis and Leo and the 
]ieasant took the road which goes by Monte Acuto and down 
the steep ways into Borgo San Sepolcro. 

On the journey Francis became lost in prayer to all visible 
things, and even as they passed through Borgo San Sepolcro 

' ir Celano, II, xx. 49; Leg. Maj. xi. 9; Fioretti, loc. cit. ly. Consid. The 
Fioretti puts the temptation of Brother Leo before the impressing of the stig- 
mata ; but Celano clearly states that the blessing was written at the same 
time as the Praises. Now we know from Leo's own testimony that the 
Praises were written " after tlu viswn and speech he had of tlie Seraph and ths 
impression in his body of tlw stigmata of Christ ". So Leo tells us in the note 
hu added to this very parchment which Francis gave him (vide note on pre- 
ceding page). 

The character of Leo's temptation which, as all the chroniclers say, was 
" of the spirit and not of the flesh " — " non carnis sed spiritus " — is indicated 
by the words of the blessing and the sign thait upon the head. Leo's descrip- 
tion: " signum thau cum capile " written on the same sheet is significant of 
its prophetic interpretation. Of. Ezechiel ix. 6; of. R. Balfour, loc. cit. p. 
66 seq. Mr. Montgomery Carmiohael (La Benedhione di san Francesco) argues 
that the sign manual represents a cross on Monte Alvernia : but this imagina- 
tive supposition is in contradiction to Leo's own description and to the known 
custom Francis had of signing his letters with the sign thau. Of. Celano Tract, 
de Mirac. ii. 3 ; of. Edouard d'Alen9on, La Biii6diction de St. Francois, 

^Leg. Maj. xiii. 6. 


he did not hear the acclamation of the townsmen nor heed 
the town itself. 

In the evening they came to the hermitage of Monte 
Casale up in the mountains above the town, where Francis 
pityingly gave health and peace to an epileptic brother : and 
at Monte Casale he rested : for this place is fashioned for joy 
and contentment, so paradisal is its beauty. But after a few 
days he passed on to Citta di Castello in the plain, where 
the people received him with delight and brought to him 
their sick to be cured. Here he remained many days at the 
prayer of the people ; and when he again took up his journey 
the first snows were falling on the mountains over which he 
must pass on his way to the Porziuncola. That night they 
were storm-bound in the hills and could not proceed : and at 
this the owner of the ass on which Francis rode — not he who 
came from Alvernia, but another — murmured and was in sore 
temper because of the cold. But Francis took his hand and 
at the touch the cold seemed to vanish from the man's body 
and he passed the night without discomfort amidst the rocks.' 

Next day they journeyed on and came to the Porziun- 
cola : and to the eyes of Leo it seemed as they drew nigh 
this sacred place, that a bright cross preceded them, and on 
the cross was the figure of the Crucified : and it went before 
them until they entered the enclosure.^ 

Thus Francis came home, himself little heeding the voices 
of men : but all the countryside were telhng the marvel which 
had happened to him : and in the soul of Leo there was a 
great joy. 

1 Leg. Maj. xiii. 7 ; Fiorclli, loo. cit. iv. Consid. 

2 For this journey our chief authority is the Fioretti, loo. oit. All the 
country between Alvernia and Assisi, through which Francis passed, is full of 
local traditions handed down by the people through the centuries. 



It is a marvellous thing that on his return from Alvernia, 
Francis seemed to glow with new energy in spite of the fact 
that his body was now almost wholly broken with sickness 
and pain ; for to the gastric troubles and consequent debility 
which had increased much since his journey to the East, 
there was now added the pain and weakness of the stigmata. 
A mere touch made his wounds throb with pain,^ and there 
were frequent bleedings which robbed him of his poor 
physical strength.^ Because of the wounds in his feet and 
the fleshy nails, he could not walk except with acute suffer- 
ing.^ And yet in spirit he was as one whose youth is 

Incredible as it might seem, hardly had he returned to 
the Porziuncola than he set out on an evangelizing tour, 
riding on an ass.* The brethren pityingly besought him to 
rest and to have a care of his body and to submit himself 
to medical treatment ; but he gaily brushed aside their 
anxieties; where would be his knightly honour, if bearing 
the marks of Christ's passion, he sought to avoid the pain? 
He had taken his Master's cup, and he must needs drink it 

' II Celano, 138 ; Tract, de Miraoulis, i ; Leg. Maj. xiii. 8. 
2 1 Celano, 95 ; II Celano, 136. Tract, de Miraoulia, 4. 
" ibid. * I Celano, 98. 



that he might fulfil in himself the sufferings of Christ which 
yet were lacking in him. 

The truth is, Francis knew that his days on earth were 
drawing near their end, and he was like a bride solicitous 
only to prepare the home against the coming of him whom 
her soul worships. Why waste the time in useless cares '? 
The brethren, too, knew that his days were numbered. 
They had but to look upon his weakened body : and then 
there was a mysterious warning which had come to Brother 
Elias one night when he and Francis were stopping at 
Foligno. In his dream Elias had seen a venerable priest 
clothed in white garments, who bade him arise and tell 
Francis that in two years' time he would go the way of all 
flesh at the call of the Lord.^ When Francis heard the 
message, his soul bounded with joy and all his being turned 
eagerly to that call of the Lord : but the brethren in their 
love for him and in their self-pity, were made only the more 
anxious to tend him with all services, and, if it might be, to 
ward off the approaching day. 

And shortly a new aggravation of illness forced him to sub- 
mit somewhat to their solicitations. His malady brought on a 
trouble of the eyes, so that he could hardly endure the light ; 
and he was altogether in great pain. 2 Then did Brother Elias 
become more importunate, bidding him as his guardian to take 
medical advice. But Elias did more : he sent word to Cardinal 
Ugolino,knowingwellhow Francis heldhim in great reverence. 

It was now early summer ; and the cardinal was with the 
papal court at Eieti.= At the court was a physician of great 

1 1 Celano, 109 ; Sjjec. Perfect, [ed. Sab.], cap. 121. ^Cgiauo^ gg, 

3 Honorius III had been compelled by a rising of the Romans to quit Rome 

at the end of April. After a short stay at Tivoli, he came with his court to 

Rieti and remained there until the end of 1226. 



skill. The cardinal, therefore, sent an urgent message to 
Francis to come and be treated at Rieti. Francis submitted ; 
and arrangements were made to carry him thither by easy 

Now this journey was to be memorable both for what 
happened at its beginning and towards its end ; but chiefly 
for y?hat happened at the beginning. 

On the first day Francis journeyed only as far as the con- 
vent of San Damiano, less than an hour's slow ride from the 
Porziuncola : for he much desired to visit Sister Clare both 
for his own soul's comfort and for hers. In these days of his 
peace when the hand of the Lord lay so mightily, yet so sweetly, 
upon him, he turned to Clare for understanding sympathy as 
to no one else. None other was there in all the earth who 
understood so well as she, this mystery which had come to 
him, and what his own thought and desire must be concerning 
it. For to her too in the walled garden of her heart, Christ 
had revealed Himself : and she knew, and knowing, wor- 
shipped. No word of hers would tarnish the bloom upon this 
"secret of the King". With her therefore Francis could 
speak as to none other. And because she knew him so well, 
her woman's pity for his sufferings never made her less a 
companion to him in his determination to suffer even to the 
uttermost what pain should be sent him, that so he might 
the more fully probe the love which made Christ his Lord 
suffer. Hence when others who understood him less though 
they loved him well, claimed the guardianship of his body, he 
turned once more to Clare for the comfort of his spirit. 

It was to be but a passing visit and the next day would 
see the travellers again on the road. But that night Francis be- 
came much worse and it was soon evident that he could travel 
1 1 Celano, 99 ; Fioretti, xviii. 


no further for the present. Then Clare, divining Francis' 
wish, had a hut built for him in the convent garden, a hut of 
wattles such as he had at the Porziuncola : and thither Francis 
was carried in the loving care of Angelo Tancredi, Kuffino, 
Leo and Masseo ; ' Clare's vigilant sympathy hovering over 
them all. For between all these first disciples of Poverty 
there was a spirit of comradeship in which few of the later 
generation could share: and doubtless Clare was thankful 
that in these days of pain Francis should be tended by the 
companions of those first joyous years. 

The suffering grew intense and to the agony of nerve and 
limb was added the dread loss of sight. 

To increase his discomfort the hut was over-run with mice. 
Now ordinarily Francis would not have minded this much, 
because of his love of all creatures, even the meanest. But 
in his blindness and pain their importunate intrusions set all 
his nerves ajar : and for once he felt a certain pity for him- 
self and grew fearful lest his patience should fail. In this 
new need he turned to the Lord and besought Him to come 
to his aid. Hardly had he uttered the cry v/hen to his spirit 
there came the responding question: "Tell me, brother, if 
anyone should give thee in return for thy infirmities and 
sufferings, a treasure so vast and precious that the whole 
earth by comparison would be as nothing to it, wouldst thou 
not greatly rejoice? " Francis answered musingly : " Great 
indeed, Lord, would be this treasure and very precious and 
exceedingly wonderful and desirable ". The voice replied, 
" Then, brother, be glad and make merry in thine infirmities 
and sufferings ; and for the rest, thou mayest be assured of 
My Kingdom, even as if thou wert already there ". 

'I Celano, 102. Celano does not give their uames, but his description of 
them leaves no doubt. 

27 * 


Now as when on a dreary journey suddenly one comes 
upon an entrancing scene of loveliness and forgets in a 
moment the dragging weariness and leaps with a new under- 
standing and joy of hfe, so now it was with Francis. The 
dread veil of despondency lifted and he felt only the treasure of 
life which the earth held, scintillating with the mystic promise 
of the fuller life to come. And all his being throbbed with the 
pleasure of it and his heart was full of gratitude for the fair 
world which promised yet a fairer. And through the remain- 
ing hours of the night his whole being was eager with 
worship, and he could have kissed the earth and the sky 
for the promise they had brought him. So he passed the 

But as soon as day broke Francis arose and called his 
companions, for he could not rest with his joy unshared. 
" My brothers," he exclaimed, " if the emperor promised his 
kingdom to one of his liege-men, should not that man be very 
glad ? And if he gave him his whole empire, should he not 
yet even more rejoice ? Surely then ought I to be glad of my 
infirmities and sufferings, and be comforted in our Lord and 
for ever give thanks to G-od the Father and to His only Son 
our Lord Jesus Christ and to the Holy Spirit, because of this 
so great favour He has done to me ; for he has deigned to 
assure me. His unworthy servant whilst yet I live in the flesh, 
of the possession of His Kingdom. Wherefore to the praise 
of the Lord and for our own comfort and for the edification 
of our neighbour, I will make a new hymn concerning those 
creatures of the Lord which minister to our daily need and 
without whom we could not live." 

So saying, Francis sat down and pondered : then lifting 
his voice he uttered in the Italian tongue this soncr:__ 


Most high omnipotent, good Lord, 

Tiiine are praise, glory and honour and all benediction. 
To Thee alone. Most High, do they belong : 

And no man is there, worthy Thee to Name. 
Praise be to Thee, my Lord, with all Thy creatures, 

Chiefest of all, Sir Brother Sun 
Who is our day, through whom Thou givest light : 

Beautiful is he ; radiant, with great splendour : 
Of Thee, Most High, he is a true revealer. 

Praise be to Thee my Lord, for Sister Moon and for the stars ; 
In heaven hast thou formed them, bright, precious and fair. 

Praise be to Thee my Lord, for Brother Wind, and for the 
air and for the cloud, for clear sky and all weathers. 
By which Thou givest nourishment to all Thy creatures. 

Praise be to Thee my Lord, for Sister Water ; she 
Most useful is, and humble, precious and pure. 

Praise be to Thee my Lord, for Brother Fire ; by whom 
Thou lightest up the night : 

And fair is he and merry, mighty and strong. 
Praise be to Thee, my Lord, for our Sister, Mother Earth, 

The which sustains and keeps us : 
She brings forth diverse fruits, the many-hued flowers and grass. 

Creatures all ! praise and bless my Lord, and grateful be, 
And serve Him with deep humility. 

Having uttered his hymn, Erancis caused it to be written 
down, entithng it " The Canticle of Brother Sun ". And he 
set it to a melody, and straightway taught the brethren to 
sing it.' 

Thus out of that night of pain did Erancis issue forth the 
singer of a new song, one of those songs of the soul's awaken- 

1 Cf. Spec. Pei feet. [ed. Sab.], cap. 100, 118, and 119 ; II Celano, 213. 

The Canticle of the Sun is given in Spec. Perfect, cap. 120; and in 
Confmrnit. lib. ii. fruot. xi. ii. It also exists in many MSS. Cf. Sabatier, 
Spec. Perfect., Etude Spiciale du Chap. 120, pp. 277-91; Fr. Paschal 
Eobinson, The Writings of St. Francis, pp. 150-3 ; Boehmer, Analehten, 
p. Iziii. 


ing which the world treasures with material instinct: for 
they are the joyous cry of an attained, life — attained within 
the soul of the singer— which the world's heart has long 
desired to see and the vision of which will never again be 
wholly lost. Therefore are they taken to the heart of the 
world as the break of day is taken to the heart of the patient 
earth : for they are light, and warmth, and colour, all that 
makes life free and glad. 

The "Canticle of Brother Sun" is a song of the kin- 
ship of all God's creatures and of God's Fatherhood of them 
all, and of the hberty which the heart of man finds in the 
vision of this truth. That is the palpitating cry which breaks 
out in its halting cadence and rugged line. It is the glad an- 
nouncement of life where men had seen but counterfeit or 
negation. Those who had sang of religion before him had be- 
moaned the tyranny of the sense- world and had seen freedom 
of soul only in the life beyond tho grave: pathetically they 
bewailed their exile here on earth ; joyous only when they 
could escape in faith and hope from the earth on which they 
were born. But to Francis, mother earth and the sky 
above and all the things which God has made were insistent 
pledges of the life eternal, tokens of the Divine Life which 
creates both present and future : and he knew no other way 
of immersing his own being in the Eternal Sea than by im- 
mersion in the sea of life around him ; only this was he 
careful of, to keep his soul pure from selfish desire and to 
abide in the faith of Christ His Lord ; believing that only so 
would the created world give up to him its secret. 

And now with his faith in God so secare and all selfish- 
ness utterly banished in his union with his God, his heart 
and mind were free and all his being confessed with joyous 
clear confession his faith in the visible world. That was the 


liberty into which Francis bad come and which he sang in his 
song. How it sent a thrill through the heart of Christendom 
and was one of the beginnings of a new religious sense and 
of a new secular art, you may read elsewhere ; ' and also how 
it was one of the beginnings of that Italian speech which 
Dante Alighieri moulded into such perfect melody.^ For in 
the uttering of this song Francis used neither the Latin of the 
clerk nor the language of trouvere or troubadour, as in the 
songs he had hitherto sung, but with the instinct of the true 
poet he strung his verse to the melody of his own people's 
tongue. It was but an untutored speech, the speech of his 
people, unrecognized by the scholar save as a menial in the 
house. Yet could no other speech have borne the burden of his 
song : for no true poet yet has sung truly in an alien tongue 
or in any other save that of his own blood. 

Was Clare present when Francis composed his hymn ? In- 
deed it may well be that the world owes this song in part to 
her inspiring sympathy : for never had Francis been more 
truly himself than in these days at San Damiano. He had 
become again the joyous troubadour of the Lord, even as he 
had been in the days before his great trial : but just as the 
early beauty will sometimes reappear in the countenance of 
one who has gone through years of suffering, ennobled and 
spiritually transfigured ; or as the golden dawn is fulfilled in 
the mellow brilliance of evening sunhght ; so was it with 
Francis in this rejuvenation of his spirit. More and more 
ardent he grew to conquer the world by love and poetry, believ- 

1 Cf. E. Gebhart, L'ltali? Mystiqioe, pp. 282-3; ibid. pp. 83-4; Miintz, 
Hist, de Part peridant la Renaissance : Les Primilifs ; Thode, St. Francois 
d' Assise et VArt Italien. 

2 Of. Ozanam, Les Poites Pranciscains, p. 82 ; Matthew Arnold, Essays in 
Criticism, p. 243 ; Monaci, Crestomazia italiana dei primi sccoli, fasc. i. pp. 


ing that if men could but be brought to gaze upon the beauty 
of God and His works, they would be impelled to love and 
serve Him. In his recovered freedom all the world was again 
transfigured in the mystic light of his glowing ideahsm. 

An incident now happened which confirmed him in this 
glad outlook. Whilst he was still at San Damiano, a long- 
smouldering feud burst into flame between the municipality 
of Assisi and the bishop. The bishop excommunicated the 
magistrates, and these forbade the citizens to have any busi- 
ness relations with the bishop's court either for buying or sell- 
ing. When the news reached the ears of Francis he sent for 
Brother Pacifico, the poet and singer, and for others of the 
brethren. One of them he bade go and summon the magis- 
trates to the bishop's palace, and they out of reverence at 
once complied with the request. On their arrival they were 
met by Pacifico and his companions and by the bishop's court. 
Then, following out the injunction of Francis, the brethren 
sang the "Canticle of Brother Sun," as Francis had taught 
them ; but with this additional stanza, composed for the oc- 
casion : — 

Praise be to Thee my Lord for those who pardon grant for love of 

And we< bear and buffetings ; 
Blessed are they who in peace abide. 
For by Thee Most High, they shall be crowned. 

As the brethren sang, the bishop and the magistrates felt 
themselves strangely moved : into the misty, heated world of 
their petty rivalries and recriminations had come this song of 
Francis as a gentle believing spirit, and before it they grew 
ashamed and silent; and then they became humble and re- 
pentant ; and finally as the song ended, their hearts leaped to 
better things and they wept in their humiliation. Without 


argument or bargaining they held out to each other the hand 
of peace and parted in friendship.^ 

Francis was happy when the brethren returned and told 
what had happened. In his joy he planned to send Brother 
Pacifico and his fellow-singers on tour through the world. 
They were to go from place to place preaching and singing the 
praises of the Lord. First a brother, one who had the gift 
of words, was to preach and at the conclusion of the sermon 
the others were to sing this song of God's creatures : and 
when they had sung they were to say to the people : " We 
are God's jongleurs ; and for that we have sung to you, we 
ask a reward : and our reward will be that you all abide in 
sincere penitence ".^ 

It was six weeks or more before Francis could continue 
his journey to Eieti.^ Perhaps in the heart of Clare there 
was a foreboding that this was to be his last visit to San 
Damiano. His going would leave a void in her daily life, for 
all these weeks she had ministered watchfully both for the 
comfort of his soul and the alleviation of his bodily suffer- 
ing,* yet would she rejoice, understanding the joy which had 
come to him and that it would remain. In the intimacy of 
these days she had learned much that would stand her in 
good stead in the days to come when the defence of Francis' 
ideals was to be committed into her brave hands. 

' S-pec. Perfect, [ed. Sabatier], oap. 101. ^ ibid. cap. 100. 

' There are various readinga in the MSS. of the Spec. Perfect, regarding 
the length of Francis' stay. Some say 60 days; others 50. Cf. Spec. Perfect. 
[ed. Sabatier], p. 195 seci. The Conformit. says iO days. One MS. published 
in Miscellanea Franc, vi. p. 47 feq has " ultra spatium 4 dierum ; " but as M. 
Sabatier has pointed out (loc. cit.) the expression is vague and unlikely. Prob- 
ably it is a copyist's error for " ultra spatium 40 dierum ". 

^ A pair of sandals which Clare made to relieve the pain of his stigmatized 
feet are still preserved at San Damiano. 


So Francis went on his way broken in body but greatly 
uplifted in spirit. By slow stages they had him borne over 
the road he knew so well. At length they came to the wooded 
hills that lie out in the plain near to Eieti ; and once again 
Francis was too ill to be carried further. So the brethren 
stopped at the church of San Fabiano where the priest offered 
the shelter of his house. And here happened that other in- 
cident which was to make this journey notable. 

The priest was very poor : his chief source of income was 
a small vineyard which in the best years produced twelve 
measures of wine : and the vineyard adjoined the house. 
Now when it became known that Francis had arrived at the 
house of the priest of San Fabiano, all manner of people, 
cardinals and bishopis and citizens, went out to do him rever- 
ence and for some days the priest's house was as a shrine of 
pilgrimage. But alas for the vineyard ! With no considera- 
tion for the priest's poverty, the pilgrims helped themselves 
to his fat grapes, and in a few days the vines were bare 
of their best. In despair the priest bewailed his pro- 
spect of hungry days ahead and began to regret his 

Francis, made aware of the havoc caused by his presence, 
pitied the poor priest and asked that he would come to him. 
" Be not disturbed, signore," he exclaimed confidently when 
the priest came ; " we cannot alter things now, but we can 
trust in the Lord to make good this loss which you have 
suffered on my account. Tell me how many measures of wine 
you get when the year is at its best ". The priest replied that 
twelve measures was his best output. " Then be not sad," 
said Francis, "and utter no further words of complaint: if 
you get less than twenty measures this year I will make good 
that quantity." And indeed when a few weeks later the time 


for pressing the grapes came, the priest to his joy got I'Venty 
measures of good wine.-' 

Francis' coming to Eieti was in fact a Palm-Sunday tri- 
umph. The rumour of the stigmata had preceded him : he 
was " the saint," whom all hastened to honour and revere. 
One man whose cattle had been struck by some disease, came 
to the brethren and besought them to give him the water in 
which Francis washed his hands and feet, and returning 
home he sprinkled the cattle with the water and they re- 

In the city Francis was lodged in the bishop's palace : and 
hither the sick were brought to him that he might heal them 
by his prayers and blessing. One of these was a canon, a 
worldly cleric crippled as the result of evil living. With piteous 
tears he clamoured to be signed with the sign of the cross. 
Francis acceded to his request but with this sharp rebuke : 
"You have lived according to the desires of the flesh and not 
according to the judgments of God: how then shall I sign 
you with the cross ? But I sign you in the name of Christ : 
yet know that greater evils will befall you if you return to 
your vomit : for on account of the sin of ingratitude things 
worse than the first come upon a man." The canon was 
cured : but unhappily went back to his evil ways, and shortly 
was killed by a falling roof whilst rioting in the house of some 

' Spec. Perfect, [ed. Sabatier], cap. 104 ; Fwretti, xviii. A new church 
marked the scene of this miracle a few years later. It was consecrated by 
Gregory IX. It then became known by the title of S. Maria della Foresta. 
A house for the friars was built adjoining it. The house and church have of 
late years been temporarily closed owing, I was told, to lack of alms for their 

'Leg. Maj. xiii. 6; Gelano, Tract, de Mirac. 18. 

811 Gelano, 41 ; Leg. Maj. xi. 5. 


Meanwhile Francis was suffering greatly. Yet amidst his 
bodily agonies he continued to find an absorbing sweetness 
in meditating upon the beauty of God in His creation. All 
the creation seemed to sing of the glory of its Creator to his 
pain-racked senses : and this is the more wonderful when we 
remember how pain is apt to turn all sensible comfort into 
bitterness. One day, when he was suffering more than usual 
in eyes and head, he had a great desire to hear the viol. One 
of the brothers attending him, had been a violist in the world. 
Francis called for him and said: "Brother, the children of 
the world do not understand divine sacraments : and musical 
instruments which in former times were set apart for the 
praise of God, man's wantonness has converted to the mere 
delight of the ear. Now I would have you go secretly and 
borrow a viol and bring comfort with some honest melody 
to brother Body who is so full of pains". But the brother 
had not Francis' unworldliness. He protested that people 
might think he was given to levity if he asked for such a thing. 
" In that case," replied Francis, "let it be. It is better to 
put aside good things than to give scandal." Yet were his 
thoughts that day full of the mystery of music. The next 
night as he was lying awake thinking of God, suddenly there 
came to him the sound as of a viol being played ; and as the 
bow touched the strings, such surpassing melody came forth 
as no earthly viol could produce ; so that Francis forgot all 
his pain. The morning following he said to the brother : 
" Brother, our Lord who consoles the afflicted never leaves me 
without consolation. I could not hear the viol of men ; but 
I have heard one far sweeter." And he told his experience 
ol the night. 1 

Probably to escape the noise of the world Francis had 

III Celano, 126; Leg. Maj. v. 11. 


himself removed from the city to the hermitage of Monte Eain- 
erio. Here he underwent the treatment which the physician 
prescribed. To reheve the agony of one of his eyes, it was 
thought well to cauterise his upper cheek. When the phy- 
sician suggested this, Francis replied that he was willing to 
submit to whatever Brother Elias his superior should deter- 
mine, for in the matter of his body he had no will of his own 
but was altogether in their hands. 

So the iron for the cautery was got ready. For a 
moment Francis feared lest in the application he might 
shrink from the pain : but bracing his spirit to the ordeal he 
looked steadily at the iron in the fire : " my brother fire ! " he 
exclaimed, " amongst all creatures most noble and useful, be 
courteous to me in this hour, for I have ever loved thee and 
ever will love thee for love of Him Who created thee ". The 
attendant brethren, less brave, left the room : but Francis 
making the sign of the cross over the burning iron, submitted 
without a tremor. When the operation was over the breth- 
ren came back. "0 weak-spirited and of little faith, why 
did you flee ? " Francis said to them ; "in truth I tell you I 
felt not any pain nor sense of heat, so that if it is not well 
burned, he may burn me better ". 

But little relief came from this cauterising. Another time 
afterwards they opened the veins above the ear : but equally 
without giving rehef. Another physician was called into con- 
sultation. He cauterised both ears, piercing them with the 
burning iron : and yet no relief came.* The serene endurance 
with which Francis underwent all these operations was a 
marvel to those who attended him. One of the physicians 
told the brethren, he would have applied such drastic remedies 

^ Spec. Perfect, [ed. Sabatier], cap. 115; Gelano, Mirac. 14. 


with fear even to the strongest man ; yet this man so weak 
and ill, bore all without a sign of grief.^ 

The secret of his endurance was, in truth, that indomitable 
joy which had come to him with the renewal of his spirit on 
Alvernia and at San Damiano. He was livmg in that joy and 
not in his bodily troubles. Frequently would he break into 
song, sometimes composing new canticles and setting them 
to music : in these moments of inspiration he was once again 
back in the wattle but at San Damiano where his soul had 
found its new utterance : and because of the remembrance, 
he sent these canticles to Clare, knowing how she would 
rejoice in them and how well she understoood.^ 

He was eager too for new adventures for the love of his 
Lord Christ. In the knowledge and vision which had come 
to him it seemed as though he were but at the beginning of 
life. " My brothers," he would say, "let us begin to serve 
the Lord God, for hitherto we have done nothing or hardly 
anything." With a sort of caress his desire went back to 
the aspirations of his early days. At times he wished to 
return to the service of the lepers. At other times, however, he 
thought to retire to some far-oil hermitage, where the world 
would not trouble him, and give himself wholly to prayer: 
this was when some echo of his troubles cast a shaaow over 
his joy.' Yet again the surgent missionary instinct would be 
strong in him and he longed to go forth and proclaim God's 
love, and urge men to praise and worship Him. Unable to 
do this and yet unwilling to be a silent and useless herald of 
his Lord, he would dictate messages of faith to be sent abroad 
to stir up men to love God. Of such sort is the letter 
addressed to the governors and magistrates of the people in 

1 Celano, Tract, de Mirac. 14 ; Leg. Maj. v. 9. 

2 Spec. Perfect, [ed. Sabatierj, cap. 90. s Celano, 103 ; Leg. Maj. xiv. 1. 


all parts of the world, in which he begged of them to see that 
due reverence be paid to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar 
and that the people be warned by a crier or by other means 
every evening to give praise and thanks to God. Another 
letter he caused to be written to the custodes of the Friars 
Minor, urging them to announce and preach the praises of 
the Lord and to exhort the people to respond to the call of the 
bells and worship God.^ 

So the winter wore on. The physicians' remedies 
brought but temporary rehefs : they could not arrest the 
disease. Cardinal Ugolino therefore advised that Francis be 
taken to Siena where the physicians were of good repute in their 
profession.^ So in the first spring days they set out for the 
Tuscan city : and amongst the attendants was a physician 
who was under a vow to enter the Order. ^ 

The journey was lightened by an incident which belongs 
to the romance of Francis' story. They had reached Tuscany 
and were passing through the undulating country between 
Campilia and San Querico, when three poor women met them 
in the road ; three sisters they might have been so siniihir 
Were they in feature and dress. Seeing Francis, they bowed 
and saluted him with this novel salutation : " Welcome, 
Sir Poverty!"*: then passed on. A chivalrous delight 

' Opuscula S.P.F. (Quaracohi), Epist. iv. and v. pp. Ill and 113. Of. p l'J2 
Fr. Paschal Robinson, The Writijigs of St. Francis, pp. 125 and 127. Boehmer 
(AnaUTcten, p. 70) classes ihe letter to the governors amongst the " doubtful " 
writings; but internal evidence is all in its favour. 

21 Celano, 105. 

^ " Medioum quendam Ordini obligatum," II Celano, 93. 

■" " Betie veniat, Domina Paupertas" As Mr, Montgomery Carmichael 
suggests, Domina in this instance is adjectival to Paupertas, and oonse. 
(juently is governed as to gender by the noun with which it is associated. As 
addressed to a man the words therefore should be rendered Sir Poverty (or 


thrilled the heart of Francis at this unexpected greeting, 
and for awhile he was wholly entranced in the thought. 
Then he remembered how poor the three women seemed to 
be, and he begged the physician to go back and give them 
each an alms : and this the physician did, giving to each a 
piece of money. But when on rejoining the company, the 
physician and brethren looked back, the women were 
nowhere to be seen. In after days the story went that these 
three women were the three evangelical virtues, poverty, 
chastity and obedience : and they who told the story thought 
it not strange that this witness should have been given to the 
singular holiness of Francis.^ But to Francis they were but 
the messengers of heaven bearing witness to his mystic 
alliance with the Lady Poverty. 

Of his sojourn at Siena this only need be said, that the 
citizens received him with a reverent tenderness : they were 
anxious to look upon him and hear his voice. One sent him 
a live pheasant, knowing how he loved the birds ; ^ another, a 
Dominican friar, learned in theology, came to him propound- 
ing a thesis ; ^ a Friar Minor, a stranger from Brescia, by 
stratagem got sight of the stigmata.* But not all the skill of 

Lord Poverty) and not Lady Poverty as translators usually render them. 
Cf. Celano's Legenda Secunda in Art in Franciscan Annals, July, 1911, p. 

Ill Gelano, 93; Leg. Maj. vii. 6. Celauo notes the fact of the disap- 
pearance, but merely adds : " Plurimum stupefacti mirabilibus [Dei} eventum 
adnumerant, muliercs nmi fuisse scienies. quce avibus ocius transvolassent ". 
But St. Bonaventure, less cautious, unhesitatingly adopts the construction 
put upon the occurrence by the saint's physician and attendants. Yet he 
only cites the saint's companions (not the saint himself) as seeino in the 
occurrence " a something mysterious ". It is he who adds the detailed 
explanation of the three evangelical virtues. 

m Gelano, 170; Tract, de Mirac. 26. 

m Celano, 103. * ibid., 137. 


the physicians was of any avail : Francis grew weaker and it 
was seen that his end was fast approaching. 

One night he had a violent hemorrhage, and the attendant 
brethren thought he must surely die. In their distress they 
gathered around him, weeping and crying out : " Father, what 
shall we do without thee ? To whom wilt thou leave us 
orphans ? Always hast thou been to us father and mother, 
begetting and bringing us forth in Christ. Thou hast been 
our captain and shepherd, our teacher and corrector, teach- 
ing and correcting more by example than by word. Whither 
therefore shall we go, sheep without a shepherd ? orphaned 
sons without a father, men rude and simple without a cap- 
tain? " Thus did they make lament, unable to restrain their 
grief. Finally they begged him at least to leave his blessing 
to all his sons and some written testament of his will that 
in after times the brethren might be able to say : " These 
words did our Father leave to us his brethren and sons, at 
his death ". 

At that Francis bade them call Brother Benedict of Pirato, 
a holy priest who had said Mass for him during his sickness. 
And when Brother Benedict came, Francis said to him : 
' ' Write how that I do bless all my brethren who are now in 
our religion or who shall ever come into it even to the end of 
the world. And since on account of my weakness and the 
pain of my infirmity I am not able to speak much, in these 
three words I briefly lay open my will and intention to all 
the brethren present and to come : namely that in token of 
my memory and blessing and last will, they love one another 
as I have loved them ; that they forever love and observe our 
Lady Poverty ; and that they always be loyal and subject to 
the prelates and clergy of Holy Mother Church." ^ 

> Spec. Perfect, cap. 87. 



Meanwhile word had been sent to Brother Ehas, who came 
hurrying to Siena, to take Francis back to Assisi : for he 
knew that Francis wished to die where he had found his 
vocation, and too that the people of Assisi would never for- 
give him if he allowed the saint to die elsewhere. Moreover 
it IS not unlikely that Elias was already dreaming of the 
great shrine he would build to receive the body of the saint 


(Near Coitona) 



The return journey from Siena was accomplished not without 
difficulty. At the Celle, the hermitage in the ravine outside 
Cortona, they had to rest several days.-' Whilst they were 
there a poor man came to the hermitage bewailing his lot, 
for his wife was dead and he had a family to support but no 
means. At once Francis gave him the new cloak which the 
brethren had but just procured to replace another which he 
had given away to a beggar on the road. With shrewd 
humour he bade the man on no account to give it up to 
anyone unless he were first well rewarded. At that moment 
the brethren came hastily on the scene, claiming the cloak. 
But a look from Francis steeled the man's heart and he 
clung to his gift till the brethren gave hiin compensation.^ 

Leaving the Celle, Elias avoided the direct road which 
leads to Assisi by Perugia ; for he knew that the Perugians 
would not scruple to seize a dying saint, in order to add 
his relics to the treasures of the city. He therefore turned 
aside through the mountains, taking the long road round by 
Gubbio and Nocera ; and for greater security he sent word 
to Assisi that a guard be sent to meet them beyond the 
mountains. So at Bagnara above Nocera an armed escort 

1 1 Celano, 105. 

"II Oelano, 87, 88. Of. Spec. Perfect, [ed. Sabatier], cap. 35, 




awaited them. As they moved forward they came to the 
village of Satriano in the hills. Here the soldiers, hungry 
from long fasting and the journey, sought to buy food ; but 
the villagers, probably resenting an overbearing importunity, 
refused to sell. In their predicament the soldiers came back 
to Francis and said laughingly: "It is needful that you 
share with us your alms, else must we go foodless ". Francis 
retorted: "And right is it you can find nothing since you 
put your trust in your flies instead of God ". By flies 
he meant their coins. Then he bade them go back to the 
villagers and beg food humbly for the love of God. The 
villagers thus appealed to, gave of what they had.' 

As the party approached Assisi they were met by the citi- 
zens who had come out as for a festival. AVith loud cries they 
welcomed the saint, and strange as it might seem to men of 
this day, their joy was the greater because they knew he could 
not live long. He was in truth no longer the man, but the 
saint, in the eyes of these mediaeval folk : they were anxious 
to give him the honours of sainthood and already anticipated 
the glory of enshrining his body and invoking his aid from 
heaven.^ So careful were they that this sacred treasure 
should not be again exposed to loss, they would not allow 
him to be taken out to the Porziuncola in the exposed plain, 
but had him lodged in the bishop's palace in the city. And 
Francis had to submit. He understood his people and he 
had no fear now of their adulation. Spontaneously and simply 
he referred the world's praise of himself to the sweet Saviour, 
so utterly did he see himself as the servant whom the King 
had deigned to honour : which indeed is the supreme humility 
of a perfect love. So when one day a brother in the freedom 

1 Colano, 77 ; Leg. Maj. vii. 10. 

2 1 Gelano, 105; Spec. Perfect, [ed. Sabatier], cap. 22. 


of familiar converse, laughingly asked him for how much he 
would sell his sackcloths to the Lord, seeing that silken cover- 
lets would later on cover his body ; Francis cheerfully replied : 
" you speak the truth ; it shall be so for the praise and bless- 
ing of my God ".' 

And now as he lay on his sick bed, his thoughts went 
out frequently to the brotherhood he had founded : and per- 
haps with the greater tenderness because of the thoughtful 
attentions the brethren were showering upon him in their 
anxiety.^ Sometimes, too, brethren would come to him seek- 
ing advice and direction in the difficulties which they foresaw 
would arise after his death. Francis replied to them with a 
simple directness, not always without a troublous emotion as 
he brought his soaring ideals to judgment upon the things 
that were. One day a brother — a man of singular piety and 
wholly devoted to the Order, says the chronicle — asked 
Francis : " Father, you will pass hence, but the family which 
has followed thee, will be left behind in this vale of tears. 
Suggest, if thou canst, one in whom thy spirit rests, upon 
whom the Ministership-General may safely be laid." Francis 
feelingly made answer: "My son, I see none fitted to be the 
leader of this great army, the shepherd of this vast flock. But 
1 will try to describe, and as the saying is, fashion with my 
hand,- one in whom may be clearly seen what sort of man 
should be the father of this family. 

" He should be a man of the highest character, of great dis- 
cretion and of praiseworthy reputation ; a man without private 
attachments, lest the greater love he shows to some should 
scandalize the whole body ; a man to whom the study of 
prayer is his friend, who will give certain hours to prayer 
and certain hours to the flock committed to his care. For 

' Spec. Perfect, [ed, Sabatier], cap. 109. ^e.g. ibid. cap. 111. 


at dawn of day he should be present at the celebration of 
Mass and in prolonged devotion commend himself and his 
flock to the Divine protection. But after prayer let him stand 
in public to be heckled by all, to reply to all and with gentle- 
ness to make provision for all. He should be a man who will 
create no foul clique by accepting persons ; one who will 
care no less for the lowly and simple than for the learned and 
great. A man, to whom it may be allowed to excel in the 
gift of learning, but who nevertheless in his conduct will bear 
the image of pious simplicity and foster virtue. A man who 
will abhor money, the chief cause of corruption to our pro- 
fession and perfection ; who being the head of a poor Order 
and setting himself before the others as their example, will 
never wrongfully make use of money-chests. Nought' else 
should he have save a habit and little book on his own ac- 
count, and on account of the brethren a box of pens and a 
seal. Let him not be a collector of books nor given to over- 
much reading, lest he takeaway from his office what he gives 
to study : a man, who, since he is the last resource of those 
who are in trouble, will console the afflicted so that the dis- 
ease of despair may not overcome the sick through his lack 
of means to renew them in health, That he may bend the 
froward to meekness, let him abase himself and waive some- 
what of his right in order to gain a soul for Christ. Let him 
not shut up the bowels of tenderness towards those who have 
fled from the Order as if they were sheep who have perished, 
knowing how overpowering must be the temptations which 
can urge a man to so great a fall. 

" I would have him honoured by all as one holding the 
place of Christ, and provided for in all things necessary with 
all goodwill. But it behoves him not to take pleasure in 
honours nor to delight in favours more than in injuries. If 


through weakness or weariness he needs more palatable 
food, let him not take it in private but in public that other 
invalids may be relieved of shame in providing for their 
bodies. To him chiefly it belongs to discover the secret con- 
science and to draw forth the truth from the hidden springs 
and not to lend ear to tattlers. Finally such a man should 
he be, who will on no account blemish the manly beauty of 
justice out of a desire to hold on to dignity ; a man who feels 
so great an office to be more of a burden than a dignity. 
Nevertheless let not apathy be brought about through exces- 
sive gentleness, nor discipline be dissolved through mistaken 
indulgence; for whilst he is an object of love to all, he shall 
be no less an object of terror to them who do evil. I would 
also that he have associates endowed with goodness, who 
even as he, will set an example of all good things ; men 
stern against the world's pleasures, strong in the face of 
hardships ; yet becomingly genial, that they may receive all 
who come to them with a holy cheerfulness. Behold the 
Greneral of the Order, such as he should be." ^ 

To these days of bedridden sickness we owe indeed many 
of the sayings of Francis that have come down to us ; for 
some of the brethren, anxiously looking to the time when he 
would be no longer with them, were dihgent in writing down 
his words. ^ 

As the Pentecost Chapter drew near at which ministers 
and brethren from all the provinces of Italy were to be pre- 
sent, Francis longed once again to be amongst them. That 
being impossible he dictated a letter to be read at the Chapter.^ 

Ill Celano, 184-6; Spec. Perfect, [ed. Sabatier] cap. 80. 
- Of. Spec. Perfect, cap. 87. 

^Opuscula S.P.F. (Quaracohi), .Ejnsi. ii. p. 98 and p. 185; Pr. Paschal 
Robinson, The Writings of St. Francis, p. 109 ; Ubartino da Casale [Arbor 


It was for the most part a passionate plea that the brethren 
should " show all the reverence and all the honour they 
possibly can to the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, in Whom the things that are in heaven and 
the things that are on earth, are brought into peace with and 
reconciled to Almighty God," and he begged the priests " being 
pure, to offer the sacrifice purely, with a holy and clean 
intention, not for any earthly interest, neither from fear nor 
love of man," but with a will directed to God. 

" Call to mind, my brothers, priests," he wrote, " what is 
written in the law of Moses : how those transgressing even 
materially died by the decree of the Lord without any 
mercy. ^ How much more and worse punishments does he 
deserve to suffer who hath trodden under foot the Son of 
God and hath esteemed the Blood of the testament unclean 
by which he was sanctified and hath offered an affront to 
grace.^ For man despises, soils, and treads under foot the 
Lamb of God when, as the Apostle says, not discerning and 
distinguishing the holy bread of Christ from other nourish- 
ments or works, he either eats unworthily or, if he be worthy, 
he eats in vain and unbecomingly ; since the Lord has said by 
the prophet : ' Cursed be the man that doth the work of the 
Lord deceitfully'.^ And He condemns the priests who vsall 
not take this to heart saying : ' I will curse your blessings '.* 
Hear ye, my brothers : if the Blessed Virgin Mary is so 
honoured, as is meet, because she bore Him in her most 
holy womb ; if the Blessed Baptist trembled and did not 
dare to touch the holy forehead of God ; if the sepulchre in 

VitcB, V, cap. VII.) tell3 us this letter was written " in fine dierum sxiwum,'" — " at 
the evd of his days." 

' A reference to 1 Cor. ii. 27. ^ Hebrews X. 29. 

^ Cf. Jeremiaa xLviii. 10. •• Malachi ii. 2. 


which He lay for some time, is venerated ; how holy, Just and 
worthy ought he to be who touches with his hands, who 
receives with his heart and his mouth, and proffers to be 
received by others, Him Who is now no more to die but to 
triumph in a glorified eternity ; on Whom the angels desire 
to look.^ Consider your dignity, brothers, priests, and be ye 
holy because He Himself is holy.^ And as the Lord God 
has honoured you above all, through this mystery, even 
so do you also love and reverence and honour Him above 

In these and many more words did he plead with them 
once again for that which he had so yearningly pleaded for, 
ever since the far-off days which ushered in his conversion 
when he had been struck with shame at the neglect of 
the churches and the lack of reverence for the sacrament 
of the altar.^ 

lOf. 1 Peter i. 12, '^Gi. Leviticus xi. 44. 

^Thereisone passage in this letter ordering that "one mass only" be 
celebrated each day in the places of the brethren, even if there be many 
priests in the community. Melanchthon used this passage as an argument 
against private masses in his Apology. Cf. Opuscula, i.e. p. 104 ; Fr. 
Paschal Robinson, p. 115. It may be taken for granted that St. Francis 
had no intention of condemning a practice favoured by the Church, for 
he was too Catholic in his obedience : but this mere statement of a self- 
evident principle hardly solves the question raised. The simple answer, 
however, seems to be that Francis was legislating for a particular purpose 
and against an actual evil. He wished the brethren to celebrate " not for 
any earthly interest" {vide Opuscula, l.o. p. 101), but as concentrating their 
being upon the fulfilment of the divine Will. The frequent legislation of the 
Church concerning offerings for masses, indicates the danger against which 
Francis wished to guard the brethren. Better have one mass said with an 
entirely spiritual intention, than many masses with an intention less spirit- 
ual. In a word, it was a regulation meant to guard and foster reverence for 
the Blessed Sacrament : just as in certain cases a priest might advise less 
frequent reception of the sacraments, with no intention of condemning as a 
general principle the more frequent reception. IdeaUst as he was, Francis 


One other document Francis wrote about this time, namely 
his Last Will and Testament, and in that too we shall find 
the same anxious thought and the same passionate prayer.^ 

Meanwhile, despite the buoyant energy of his spirit, his 
bodily strength was rapidly failing. A physician of Arezzo 
named Buongiovanni, with whom Francis was on terms of 
friendship, now came to visit him. "Tell me, Bembem- 
gnate," said Francis (addressing him familiarly), " tell me 
what you think of this dropsy of mine." Buongiovanni 
answered warily ; " All will go well with you by God's grace ". 
" Tell me the truth," retorted Francis, " and do not be afraid, 
for by God's grace I am no craven that I should fear death : 
by the grace of the Holy Spirit that worketh in me, I am so 
made one with my Lord that I am equally content to live or 
die." Then the physician said plainly: "According to our 
medical science your sickness is incurable and I believe that 
you will die at the end of September or by the fourth of the 
nones of October ". At that Francis lay back in his bed and 
stretched out his hands to heaven: " AVelcome, Sister 
Death ! " he exclaimed ; and in his face was a great happi- 

But some little while after the physician had gone, Francis 
fell into such unwonted pain that even his exalted spirit 
could hardly maintain its cheerfulness. Then one of the 
brothers — his name is not recorded, but blessed should it be 

wag no theorioian : he always apoke and aotod in reference to particular 
actualities. Hence there is a peculiar danger in reading absolute principles 
into his actions or sayings : one may so easily render absolute, what in his 
mind was merely relative to a particular contingency. 

' See also Verba Adinonitionis, i. (Opuscula [Quaracehi], p. 1 ; Pr. Paschal 
Robinson, loo. cit. p. 5) ; and the exhortation De reuerentia corporis Domini 
{Opuscula, loc. cit. p. 22 ; Fr. Pasohal Robinson, loc. cit. p. 22). 
Spec. Perfect, cap. 122. 


for that in this extremity he was a true disciple of his master 
— came and stood by him, speaking the right words of com- 
fort : "Father," he said, "thy hfe and conversation was and 
is a hght and mirror not only to thy brethren but to the 
whole Church ; and the same will be thy death ; and although 
to thy brethren and many others, thy death will be a matter 
of sadness and sorrow, to thyself it will be a consolation and 
measureless joy ; thou wilt pass from sore labour into exceed- 
ing rest, from many temptations and griefs into eternal peace, 
from the earthly poverty which thou liast loved and perfectly 
observed, to true and infinite riches and from this temporal 
death itself to the endless life where thou shalt see face to 
face thy Lord God whom in this world thou hast loved with 
so great a fervour of love and desire ". Then after a while he 
went on : " Father, know of a truth that unless the Lord 
send thee healing from heaven, thy sickness is incurable 
and thou hast but a short time to live, as the physicians have 
said. But this I have said for the comforting of thy spirit 
that thou mayest rejoice both in body and mind so that when 
thy brethren and others shall visit thee they may find thee 
always rejoicing in the Lord, and after thy death both to 
those who see this thing and those who hear of it, thy death 
may be a perpetual memorial, as was and always will be thy 
life and doings." 

At this Francis revived in spirit and again the gladness 
came into his voice as he replied : " If it be so that it please 
my Lord that I die shortly, then call to me Brother Angelo 
and Brother Leo that they may sing to me of Sister Death ". 
They came, full sad and sorrowing, and as Francis desired 
they sang to him the " Canticle of Brother Sun," weeping as 
they sang. But when they came to the last verse, Francis, 
now again all fervour of joy, added yet another verse : — 


Praise be to thee, my Lord, for our sister, Bodily Death, 

From whom no living man can flee ; 

Woe is to them who die in mortal sin. 

But blessed they who shall find themselves in Thy most holy will. 

To them the second death shall do no ill. 

Outside the palace the soldiers who had been set by the city 
magistrates to guard the place and prevent Francis being taken 
away by stealth, heard the singing and spoke of it, as men 
will speak eagerly of the unwonted to their friends. For it 
is not the way of men to die singing ; at least it is not how 
men expect a saint to die. And now the singing came fre- 
quently to their ears as they kept their watch, not only in 
the day but even in the night. The talk of the people at last 
reached the ears of Brother Blias, and he was disturbed in 
mind lest Francis' reputation for sanctity should be lessened. 
He came therefore to Francis and expostulated : " My dearest 
Father, truly glad am I both for thy own sake and that of thy 
companions at the joy thou showest in thy sickness. But 
the men of this city think thee a saint and believing that thou 
must shortly die, they ask, when they hear these praises being 
sung by day and night ; How is it he thus openly rejoices, he 
who is about to die and should be thinking of his death ? " 
But Francis replied straightly : " Do you remember how at 
Foligno you had a vision and told me someone had said to 
you that I should not live beyond two years? Before that 
by God's grace I frequently pondered by day and night upon 
my end ; but from the hour of that vision I have been the 
more careful to think daily of the day of my death. Leave 
me, brother, to rejoice in the Lord and in His praises and in 
my infirmities, for by the grace of the Holy Spu'it working in 
me, I am so united and wedded to my Lord that by His 
mercy I can well be merry in the Most High "} 

' Spec. Perfect, [ed. Sabatier] cap. 121. 


Yet at this time his suffering was very great, and all strength 
seemed to have left his body so that he was unable to move 
himself and depended entirely on those who tended him. A 
brother pityingly asked him which he would rather have, this 
drawn-out daily suffering or the cruel death of a martyr ? 
Erancis replied: "Son, that to me has been and is dearest 
and most acceptable, which it pleases my God to let happen 
to me ; yet in regard to the distress of my suffering, this sick- 
ness, were it but to last three days, is more grievous than any 
martyrdom ". And indeed every member of his body was in 

But one day it seemed as though he were on the very 
point of death. In alarm the brethren gathered around him 
and besought him to bless them before he died : they were 
Elias and some others whom Francis had especially desired 
to come to him. As they pressed near, Francis extended his 
hands in blessing. Being blind, he was unable to see them. 

Then happened a characteristic incident. Elias was on 
Francis' left, whether by accident or design we know not. 
The days which had passed since first Elias had been appointed 
Vicar-General, had revealed to himself and to the dying leader, 
the gulf of the spirit which separated them : yet Elias loved 
Francis in his own way and in this hour craved his blessing. 
Francis divined what was passing in the soul of his master- 
ful lieutenant : pitiful and generous, he would not deny 
him this pledge of fellowship; praying it might be fellowship 
indeed. Crossing his arms, he asked upon whose head his 
hand rested. They told him : " upon the head of Brother 
Elias ". " That is as I wish," replied Francis ; and thereupon 
he invoked this blessing upon him : " My son I bless thee in 
all things, and through all things, and as the Most High has 

1 1 Celano, 107. 


multiplied my brothers and sous in thy hands, so upon thee 
and in thee do I bless them all. May God the King of all, 
bless thee in heaven and on earth. I bless thee as far as I 
can and more than I can ; and what I cannot do, may He do 
in thee, He Who can do all things." 

With his right hand still on the head of Ehas, he con- 
tinued : "Farewell in the fear of God, all ye my sons, and 
abide in Him always ; for exceeding temptation is about to 
come to you and tribulation draws nigh. Happy shall they 
be who persevere in those things which they have begun, for 
the scandals that are to be, shall cause some to part therefrom. 
But I am hastening to the Lord and I trust to go now to my 
God Whom with devotion I have served in my spirit." ^ Sadly 
through the blessing wailed the insistent prophetic fear ! 

Shortly after this Blias obtained the consent of the city 
to remove the dying saint to the Porziuncola, for Francis 
had a certain longing of heart to die there in the bridal home 
of the Lady Poverty : and because of his urgency they dared 
not refuse.' So, late in the summer,^ Francis made the last 
stage of his last home-coming journey. 

Out by the gate of the city, called Portaccia,* they carried 
him lying on a bed, and descending the hill they reached the 

'I Celano, 108. 

^ M. Sabatiei suggests [Spec. Perfect, p. 243, note 1) that Blias had Francis 
removed to the Porziuncola to avoid the disedification he feared from Francis' 
joyous singing. Possibly this had some weight with Elias ; but surely one 
cannot know Francis without recognising liis indomitable will in matters of 
moment to his own vocation. It was only by constraint that at any time he 
would lodge in palaces. One can hardly think of him consenting to die in 

'I Celano, 109, tells us that Francis was only a few days at the Porziun- 
cola before his death: ^^paucis quievisset diehus ". 

<The Portaccia is now walled up. It is between the Porta di Mojano and 
the Porta S. Pietro. 


high road.^ How well Francis knew it! That road was 
bound to his heart by countless associations with the doings 
and aspirations of all these past years since his conversion : 
and as he was carried along now, these associations came to 
his memory in a long swift procession ; and his heart swelled 
with emotion, as he lived again in quick remembrance of those 
past days : and over his soul there swept a yearning solicitude 
for the fraternity of his love mingled with keen gratitude to 
this city of its birth. 

They had come about half the journey and had reached 
the hospital of the Crucigeri ^ whence there is a clear view of 
the city. There Francis bade the bearers stand and put the 
bed on the ground and turn his face to the city. It was as 
though he would gaze upon the city for the last time ; but he 
was blind. Yet with his face turned towards it, he raised 
himself upon the bed, and in the hearing of those who stood 
by, prayed thus reminiscently and with supplication : " Lord, 
whereas of olden time this city was, as I believe, a place and 
dwelling of wicked men, now do I see that because of Thine 
abundant mercy in the time that it pleased Thee, Thou hast 
marvellously shown forth in her the multitude of Thy mercies 
and because of Thine own goodness hast taken her to Thyself 
to be the place and dwelling of those who should acknowledge 
Thee in trath and give glory to Thy Holy Name and make 
manifest to all Christian people the sweet odour of good 
fame, of holy life, of the truest Gospel teaching and perfection. 
I beseech Thee, therefore, Lord Jesus Christ, Father of 
mercies, that Thou consider not our ingratitude but be mind- 
ful always of Thine own most abundant tenderness which 

^The old Perugia-Foligno road ran nearer to the city than does the new 
toad ; it went by San Damiano. To-day it is but an unkeropfc path. 
^ On the site where the Casa Gualdi now stands. 


Thou hast shown forth in her, that she may be ever the place 
and dweUing of them who acknowledge Thee truly and glorify 
Thy blessed and most glorious name for ever and ever. 
Amen." ' Then again the solemn procession passed on. 

So Francis was brought back to the Porziuncola to die. 

' Spec. Pcrject. cap. 124 — The traditional blessing, inscribed over the Porta 
Nuova in Aasisi, reads : " Benedicta tu a Domino, Sancta Civitas Deofidelis, quia 
per te animce multcB salvahuntur et in te muUi servi Altissimi habitahunt et de 
te iiiulti eligentur ad regnum ceternum." — Of. Fioretti, Delle sacre sante stimate, 
IV. Consid. ; Wadding, Annales, ad an. 1226. 

But the text of the Speculum Perfect., apart from other considerations, is 
more in the spirit of Francis. It is a prayer for the fraternity aa well as foi 
the city. Moreover the transition from the form of supplication to that ot 
prophecy, leads one to suspect the shorter version. It is just the sort of change 
one finds in later vcraions. 



The evening light had fallen upon the life of Francis when 
he came back for the last time to his beloved chapel in the 
wood : upon his spirit there was the mystic peace of the day's 
labour finished. 

But if the lowlands were in shadow, the hilltops were 
aglow, those beacons of his chosen life towards which Francis 
had, through the long years, turned with persistent desire. 
Peacefully triumphant they stood out now amid the falling 
darkness, still holding the light of the day that was passing 
and pledging the fair day to come. Shortly now would his 
earth's day be closed : it had held its troubles and sorrows, 
its difficulties and temptations ; but these he remembered 
only as favours of his Lord's love Who had called him in the 
way of the Cross. But mostly it had been a day of joy, and 
as a day of joy Francis looked back upon it in the evening 
light. For the earth had given to him his Lady Poverty and 
the fraternity ; he had walked its ways as a herald of the Lord 
and in his adventurous wandering had found the knowledge 
and hope of his soul's desire. Truly had earth's life been to 
him the preparation-phase of the great High Mass of the 
Christian life, with humble confession of sin and glorifying 
of God, wdth scriptural lesson and Gospel promise. Now as 
he was about to pass to the very offering of the mystic sacri- 
fice, with a backward look of deepest gratitude and a stretch- 
ing forth to the mystery before him, he gathered his soul 
together and in measured tones of unwavering conviction said 

449 ■ 29 


his Credo. This was the Testament which Francis dictated 
in these last days at the Porziuncola,^ to be a memorial to his 
brethren to the end of time. It was a confession of his faith 
in the vocation to which he and the brethren had been called. 
" This is the way in which the Lord led me," it says in effect ; 
"in this leading I beheve." Thus like the martyrs and the 
heroes of chivalry and all true men, he uttered his Credo in the 
face of death. 

The Testament runs thus (and you who read it may see 

therein as in a mirror, the soul of this long story of Francis' 

life ; and that you may have a more distinct remembrance 

I indicate its several articles of belief in the margin) :■ — 

His belief The Lord gave to me Brother Francis thus 

in the to begin to do penance : for when I was in sin 

service of it seemed to me too bitter a thing to see lepers, 

lepers : and the Lord Himself led me amongst them, and 

I dealt mercifully with them.^ And when I left 

them, what had seemed bitter to me, was changed 

into sweetness of soul and body ; and afterwards 

I tarried yet awhile and then left the world. 

inchurches, And the Lord gave me such faith in churches 

that I would simply pray and say : We adore 

' Wadding (Annales, ad an. 1226) says that the Testament was written at 
the Celle of Oortona, when Francis rested there on his journey back from Siena. 
This seems very doubtful, for at the Celle Francis had a relapse owing to an 
increase of dropsy (Of. I Celano, 105), and would hardly be able to dictate a 
lengthy document such as the Testament. The tradition which assigns the 
writing of the Testament to the Porziuncola seems therefore more probable. 
Gregory IX in the bull " Quo elongati " (Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 68) says Francis 
wrote it " circa u'timuvi vUcb sii^," but this phrase might of course refer to 
any time within a few months of his death. 

- Some versions read : " I made a sojourn with them " — "feci mm'am (in- 
stead of misericordiam) cum illis ". Vide Miscell. Fraiic. iii. p. 70. But in 
I Celano, 17, we find the passage quoted as in the text. 



in priests 
and the 

must be 
reverenced , 

as also the 
mysteries of 
the altar, 
and the 
Narnes and 
Words of 
and theo- 
logians and 
ministers of 

Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, here and in ah 
Thy Churches which are in aU the world ; and 
we bless Thee because by Thy holy Cross 
Thou hast redeemed the world. 

After that, the Lord gave me and He gives 
me still so much faith in priests who live 
according to the form of the Holy Eoman 
Church, on account of their Order, that if they 
persecuted me, I would have recourse to them. 
And if I had as much wisdom as Solomon had, 
and I found priests of this world, poor and 
lowly, I would not preach against their will in 
the parishes in which they live. And these and 
all other [priests] I desire to fear, love, and 
honour as my lords ; and I am unwilling to 
consider sin in them, because in them I see the 
Son of God, and they are my lords. And I do 
this because in this world I see nothing cor- 
porally of the Most High Son of God Himself 
except His most Holy Body and Blood which 
they receive and which they alone administer 
to others. 

And I desire that these most holy mysteries 
be above all things honoured, and revered and 
placed in precious places. 

Wheresoever I should find His most holy 
Names and written Words in unseemly places, I 
desire to gather them up and I beseech that they 
be gathered up and put in some becoming place. 

And all theologians and those who minister to 
us the most Divine Words we must honour and 
revere as those who minister to us spirit and hfe- 
29 * 



the Divine 

His belief 
the Bide 

and the life 
of the 

And after that the Lord had given me some 
brothers, no one showed me what I ought to 
do, but the Most High Himself revealed to me 
that I must live according to the form of the 
Holy Gospel : and I made it to be written in 
few words and simply ; and the Lord Pope 
confirmed it for me. 

And those who came to receive this life, gave 
to the poor all that they possessed and they 
were content vnth one tunic patched within 
and without, those who wished, and with 
a cord and breeches : and we wished for no- 
thing more. We clerics said the office like 
other clerics, the lay brothers said the Pater- 
noster, and willingly enough we abode in 
churches. And we were simple and subject to 
all. And I worked with my hands, and so I 
[still] desire to work, and I firmly desire that 
all the other brethren work in some honest 
employment. Let those who know not [how 
to work] learn, not through desire to receive 
the price of their labour but for example's sake 
and to repel idleness. And when the price of 
our labour is not given to us, let us have re- 
course to the table of the Lord, begging alms 
from door to door. The Lord revealed to me 
this salutation, that we should say : " The Lord 
give thee peace". Let the brethren take care 
not on any account to receive churches, poor 
dwelling-places or any other things which are 
built for them, unless they be such as become 
the holy poverty which we have vowed in the 



That the 
must he 
Catholics ; 
and that 
must be de- 
livered up. 

Rule, always dwelling here as pilgrims and 
strangers. I strictly command all the brethren 
by obedience that wherever they may be, they 
shall not dare to ask any letter at the Roman 
Court, either themselves or by any intermediary 
person, neither for a church nor for any other 
place, nor under pretext of preaching, nor on 
account of bodily persecution ; but wherever 
they are not received, let them flee into another 
land to do penance with the blessing of God. 
And I firmly desire to obey the Minister-General 
of this fraternity and that guardian whom it 
shall please him to give me. And I desire to 
be so held in his hands that I cannot go or act 
beyond obedience and his will, because he is my 
master. And although I am simple and weak, 
nevertheless I desire always to have a cleric 
who will perform the office for me as is con- 
tained in the Rule. And all the other brothers 
are bound to obey their guardians and to per- 
form the office according to the Rule. And 
sliould any be found who do not perform the 
office according to the Rule and who wish in 
some way to change it, or who are not Cathohcs, 
let all the brothers, wheresoever they are, be 
bound by obedience, wheresoever one of those 
be found to present him to the nearest custos 
of the place where he is found. And the custos 
is strictly bound by obedience to guard him 
strongly as a prisoner both by day and by 
night, so that he cannot be taken out of his 
hands, until he shall personally place him in 


the hands of his minister. And the minister is 
strictly ohhged by obedience to send him by 
such brothers as shall guard him day and night 
as a prisoner until they present him before the 
lord of Ostia, who is the lord, protector and 
corrector of the whole fraternity. 
TJiis is not And the brethren shall not say : This is an- 

another other Rule ; for this is but a remembrance, 

Bule hxit a admonition and exhortation and my testament, 
remem- which I, Brother Francis, your little one, make 

brance. for you my blessed brethren, to the end that we 

may observe in a more Catholic way the Eule 
which we have promised to the Lord. And let 
the Minister-General and all the other ministers 
and custodes be bound by obedience not to add 
to, nor take away from, these words ; and let 
them always have this writing with them beside 
the Rule. And in all Chapters which they hold, 
when they read the Rule let them read also 
these words. And I strictly command by obe- 
dience all my brethren, whether clerics or lay- 
brethren, that they put no glosses on the Rule 
nor on these words, saying : So they are to be 
understood. But, as the Lord gave me simply 
and purely to speak and to write the Rule and 
these words, so you shall understand them sim- 
ply and purely, and with holy doing observe 
them unto the end. And whosoever shall observe 
these things let him be filled in heaven with the 
A blessing. blessing of the Most High Father, and on earth 
with the blessing of His beloved Son, together 
with the Most Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, and 


all the Powers of heaven and all the saints. And 
I, Brother Francis, your little one and servant, 
in so far as I can, confirm unto you within and 
without this most holy blessing. Amen.^ 

It was nigh upon the feast of St. Michael, heaven's 
sentinel, when Francis made his last preparations to meet 
the summoner, Death. Full deliberately would he die, even 
as he had lived. Then knowing that the days were few, he 
bade the brethren send a messenger quickly to Rome to the 
Lady Giacoma di Settesoli — she who had befriended him so 
often in the past, — to beg her to come to him'^ and bring with 
her a fitting panoply for death : a gown of grey cloth, a napkin 
to cover his face, a cushion for his head, wax-candles to burn 
at his bier and some sweet-cake such as she sometimes had 
made for him when he visited her house. ^ For at the end 
Francis would make a feast for his body that it might share 
in the joy of his soul.* 

But before the messenger had started, the brethren were 
aroused by the tramping of horses and the buzz of many 
voices at their very gate, and the porter came hurrying to say 
that the Lady Giacoma with her sons and a great retinue 
was waiting without. " Now blessed be God," replied 

^Cf. Opuscula S. P. F. (Quaracohi), pp. 76-82, and pp. 17.3-176; Pr. 
Paschal Eobinson, The Writings of St. Francis, p. 79 seq. There is no question 
of the authenticity of the Testament : it is cited textually in I Gelano, 17 ; II 
Celano, 163 ; 8 Soc. viii, 29 ; Leg. Maj. m. 2. Also in the bull of Gregory IX, 
" Qiio elongati" (ShaiaAea,, Bull. Fran^. i. p. 68) and in St. Bon&y trihus 
Quaest. (Opera Omnia [Quaracchi], torn. viii. p. 335). 

- It is evident from Celano, Tract, de Mirac. 37, that Francis desired the 
Lady Giacoma to visit him, and not merely as the .S'^ec.P«r/(?c<. cap. 112, might 
be taken to imply that she should send him the things needed for his burial. 

^" Mostacciuolo, a, confection of almonds and sugar and other things " 
{Spec. Perfect, loc. oit.). 

<■ See also the incident of the parsley he fancied, II Celano, 51. 


Francis, " Who has sent our Brother Griacoma to us. Open 
the gates and lead her inside. For the rule concerning 
women is not for Brother Giacoma." So the Lady 
Giacoma was brought into the cell where Francis lay; 
and greatly did all the brethren marvel when they saw 
that she brought with her all that Francis had bidden them 
ask her to bring. But the Lady Giacoma told them how she 
was praying and a voice spoke to her spirit, teUing her to 
hasten if she wished to see the blessed Francis, and to take 
with her the things she had brought. Glad indeed were the 
Lady Giacoma and all her company that they had arrived to 
see the saint alive ; and the gladness mingled with the pity 
of their tears : it might have been a festive home-gathering 
rather than a meeting for a burial. For a time after 
their coming, Francis seemed to regain strength, so that the 
brethren hoped desperately that his end would yet be not so 
near at hand. But the Lady Giacoma wished to remain now 
until the end : and Francis bade her remain until the Sunday, 
saying he would die on the Saturday. So sending back part 
of her retinue, she took up her abode near the cells of the 
brethren, she and her sons and some few of her esquires.^ 

Beyond the woods at San Damiano the spirit of Clare 
was keeping vigil over the death-bed at the Porziuncola : 
and the more harmoniously since Glare herself was stricken 
with sickness.^ Bight willingly she acknowledged the claim 
of the chapel in the wood to hold him at the last, for it was 
the shrine and symbol of his vocation and of her own vows : 
and valiantly she submitted to give to him that comfort of 
the spirit. Yet was she sorely stricken, knowing that in this 
life she would not again see nor converse with him : and 

1 Celano, Tract, de. Mirac. 37, 38; Spec. Perfect, [ed. Sabatier] cap. 112 
Bern, a Bessa, Liber de Laud. viii. ; Fioretti, iv. Gonsid. 
' S^cc. Perfect, [ed. Sabatier] cap. 103. 


upon her there was ak-eady the sorrow of the orphaned ; and 
tor that she wept bitterly. Then one of the brethren brought 
to Francis the message of her grief, and at the telling he was 
greatly moved ; and he bethought him how best he might 
console her, since now he could not visit her. After awhile 
he bade a brother write down these words : — ■ 

" I, little Brother Francis, desire to follow the hfe 
and poverty of our most high Lord Jesus Christ, and of 
His most holy mother, and to persevere therein until 
the end. And I beseech you, my ladies, and I give you 
counsel that you live always in this most holy life and 
poverty. And be greatly careful of yourselves lest by 
the teaching or counsel of any one, you in any way or at 
any time draw away from it." ^ 
This writing he bade the messenger take back to Clare, 
saying : " Go and tell Sister Clare to put aside all sorrow and 
sadness, for though she cannot now see me, yet before her 
death both she herself and her Sisters shall see me and have 
great comfort of me ".^ Now after his death the brethren re- 
membering these words, brought his body to San Damiano, 
as we shall further on relate, that Clare and the Sisters 
might gaze once more upon it. And this was a partial fulfil- 
ment of the promise. But to the soul of Clare the promise 
which brought her sure comfort, meant more than this. She 
who understood Francis with the understanding of an utterly 
kindred spirit, knew that he had sent her a pledge of the 
spirit rather than of the body. In the after-years when Clare 
and the Sisters of San Damiano were to be the foremost de- 

'The text is given in the Eule of St. Clare, cap. vi. Vide Leg. Seraph. 
Textus Originates (Quaracchi), p. 63 ; and in Opuscula (Quaraoohi), p. 76. 
Of. Test. S. alarm, Boll. Acta SS. die 12 Aug. Tom. ii. p. 747 ; Leg. Seraph. 
Textus, p. 276. 

2 S^ec. Perfect, [ed. Sabatier] cap. 108, 


fenders of his ideal, then would his spirit be with them to be 
their stay and comfort ; and they would know that he was with 
them ; and that would be their joy. Such comfort it was that 
Francis sent to Clare and her Sisters as his dying legacy : 
and no greater comfort could he send. And Clare understood 
in this as in all else that concerned the secret of his soul. 

One last care now remained, and that was for his Lady 
Poverty and the home she had made with him in the Por- 
ziuncola. Very tenderly had his heart grown round this 
place : for in truth it was his special dower to the bride of 
his love, and he would not that it should ever pass away 
from her. Gathering the brethren around him, he besought 
them never to desert it. " See, my brothers," he pleaded, 
' that you never leave this place : if you are thrust out on one 
side, enter it again on the other : for truly this place is holy 
and the dwelling of God. Here when we were but a few, 
the Most High multiplied us ; here with the light of His 
wisdom, he enlightened the hearts of His poor ones ; here 
with the fire of His love, He set our wills on fire : here whoso- 
ever prays with a devout heart, will obtain what he asks, and 
whosoever offends will be more hardly punished. Wherefore, 
sons, hold this place of God's dwelling, worthy of all 
honour ; and with all your heart in the voice of exultation and 
praise, confess to God therein." ^ 

The shadows were now fast closing, ushering in the last 
solemn act of that evening sacrifice. St. Michael's day had 
come and passed, bringing doubtless to Francis its own 
call from the leader of heaven's army, whom he had been 
accustomed to honour with a knight's true devotion.^ 

Francis now prepared to lay down his offering upon the 
Altar of his Lord. Wishing to pledge once more his faith to 

UCelano, 106; Spec. Perfect, cap. 83. ^Cf. 11 Celano. 197, 


Poverty, he called the brethren around him and bade them 
lay him upon the bare ground and remove his tunic. Then 
with face turned upwards to the heavens and his left hand 
covering the wound in his right side, he said to those around : 
" I have done what it was mine to do ; may Christ teach you 
what is yours ". At that the brethren wept aloud. But the 
Father Guardian divining his thought, brought to Francis 
a tunic, and breeches and a sackcloth cap, and said to him : 
" know that this tunic and breeches and cap are lent thee by 
me in holy obedience ; and that thou mightest know that 
thou hast no right of property in them, I deprive thee of all 
power of giving them to anyone else". At these words the 
face of Francis beamed with a great joy, for he saw in this 
loan, a pledge that he had kept faith with Lady Poverty.^ 

A while afterwards with a great content of soul, he bade 
two of the brethren whom he specially loved, sing to him 
in a loud exultant voice the verse of the " Canticle of Brother 
Sun " which declares the praise of God in Sister Death. But 
whilst yet they sang, his own feeble voice broke into that 
hymn of a dauntless hope, the 141st psalm : ^ "I cried to the 
Lord with my voice ; with my voice to the Lord I made sup- 
plication ". Every verse of that psalm might be taken as a 
text for the unfolding of the singer's story ; each verse wend- 
ing towards the final prayer : " Bring my soul out of prison 
that I may praise Thy Name ; the just wait for me until Thou 
reward me".' 

^ II Celano, 214 ; Leg. Maj. xiv. 4 Francis used a cap to cover the scars 
left by the cauterizing of his eyes. 

2 i.e. according to the Vulgate: the 142nd according to the Authorized 

^St. Bonaventure {Leg. Maj. xiv. 5) places this singing of the psalm at 
the very end and makes Francis die singing the last verse. And this version 
of the story has been generally followed by later biographers. But in the nar- 
rative of events leading up to Francis' death in I Celano, 109 seq. it precedes the 


Thinking that the end must surely be nigh, Bernard da 
Quintavalle, the first of his noble companions and the most 
revered, said to him : "Ah, gentle Father, alas ! thy sons are 
fatherless now and the true light of their eyes is taken from 
them. Be mindful of the orphans whom thou leavest and 
forgive them their offences and gladden them all, both those 
who are present and those who are absent, with thy holy 
blessing." And Francis made reply : " See, my son, 1 am 
called by God : I forgive my brethren, whether present or ab- 
sent, all their offences and faults and, as far as I can, I absolve 
them : do thou proclaim this to them and bless them all for 
me ". But to soothe them in their grief he spoke to those 
about him comforting words ; and he besought them to love 
God and Poverty and "to put the Holy Gospel before all 
other ordinances "} And then they drew near and he blessed 
them, laying his hands upon their heads : but to Brother 
Bernard he gave a blessing of special tenderness and solicitude, 
because he was the first of those who had come to him : and 
he bade all the brethren hold him in particular honour as the 
chief and foremost of their knightly band.^ 

blessing and the reading of the Gospel. In II Gelano, 217 we read that after 
giving his blessing to the brethren, Francis lived a few days: " proinde paucos 
dies, qui usqiie ad Iransitum," etc. 

'11 Celano, 216. 

- 1 Celano, 109, does not mention Bernard da Quintavalle by name, but 
says : " Frater quidain de assistentibus quern sanctus satis magna diligehat 
nmore ". I think, however, that there can be little doubt that the incident he 
refers to is the same as that recorded in Fiorctii, cap. vi. ; and Chron. xxiv. 
Gen. (Anal. Franc, m. p. 42). True in II Celano, 216, where this second 
blessing is again referred to, it is said; •' Incipiens a vicario sua capitibtis 
singulorum imposuit ; " but Celano omits the details, and there is nothing 
in this phrase which contradicts the story in the Fiorctti, for there too we 
read that Francis first placed his hand upon the head of Elias, though he 
iiad called for Bernard. In the sequel, at Brother Bernard's suggestion he 
placed his left hand on the head of Elias at the same time as he held liig right 


Then, with his mind still bent upon the imitation of 
his Lord, he bade them bring some bread, and because he 
was too weak to break it himself, he had it broken into small 
pieces, and to each brother he gave a piece : and so he gave 
his last commandment of mutual love as Christ his Master 
had given it at the Last Supper.^ 

Now his earthly cares were finished : yet Sister Death 
lingered on her way. Francis awaited her coming with 
song : content that she should come when his Lord willed. 
Around his bed the brethren sang the song he loved most, the 
" Canticle of Brother Sun ". 

But at length they knew that Death was already at the 
door. With chivalrous salutation Francis exclaimed : " Wel- 
come, Sister Death ! " and turning to his physician, he bade 
him as a herald announce her coming boldly ; for he added, 
" She is to me the gate of life ". To the brethren he said : 

hand on the head of Bernard ; thus saving the dignity o£ the Vioar-General. 
The words given in I Celano, 109 : " quibus tu hcec denuntians, ex parte tiua 
omnibus benedices," certainly lend colour to the more explicit commission 
given to Bernard in the Fioretti. It is certainly singular that Francis should 
have commissioned Bernard and not Elias, to convey his last blessing to 
the brethren. But that it was not Elias who was thus commissioned is fairly 
evident since Celano, who in the Prima Legenda is always explicit regarding 
the privileges accorded to Elias, does not attribute this privilege to him. 
There is nothing inconsistent in the Fioretti story with the known history of 
Francis. If it is objected that Francis could not have said : "Sia il principale de 
tuoifratelli," etc., one has only to remember Francis' descriptions of true obed- 
ience, as not merely a submission to legal superiors but as implying a ready 
submission, prompted by love, to all one's neighbours; and this wider obed- 
ience he would have both superiors and subjects practise towards all. (Of. 
Begula i. cap. v.) Why not then in a pre-eminent degree towards Bernard, 
the first Friar Minor after Francis himself ? Further, may not one see a deli- 
cate reference in II Celano, 216 : " Kullus sibi hanc bcnedictioncm usurpd . . . sed 
porlius adofficium delorquendmn " to thecurse pronounced by Francis, according 
to the Fioretti story, against those who should deal injuriously with Bernard ? 
1 11 Celano, 217 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 88. 


" When you see me at my extremity, put me upon the ground 
as you saw me three days ago and when I am dead leave 
me there for such space of time as it takes a man leisurely to 
walk a mile "} 

So at the end they laid him habitless on the bare earth. 
Divining his wish the brethren had prepared to read to him 
in his last moments the Gospel of the Passion according to 
St. John ; but Francis, not knowing their intention, himself 
asked that that Gospel should be read. Then when the 
reading was over he bade them lay him upon sackcloth and 
sprinkle him with ashes in anticipation of his burial : for in 
his courtesy he would welcome death in all its dread offices. 
And whilst the brethren stood around in solemn reverence 
and sad expectancy, he died.^ It was then just after the 
hour of sunset. Outside the cell a multitude of larks had 
gathered in the twilight and were sending their melodies 
joyously through the still air.^ And one of the brothers, a 
holy man, at that same moment saw a brilliant orb of light 
borne by a little cloud, ascending as it were across many 
waters in a straight course to heaven.* 

But within the cell the brethren were gazing in amaze- 
ment and awe upon the lifeless body, forgetting for awhile 
their loss in the wonderful thing they saw. For the body so 
long contracted with pain, became supple and smooth and 

' II Celano, 217 ; cf. Leg. Maj. siv. i. 

^ I Celano, 110 ; Leg. Maj. xiv. 5. There is a discrepancy between these 
two authors. According to Celano the reading began at chapter sii. : 
"Ante sex dies Paschai" ; according to St. Bonaventure, at chapter xiii. ; 
" Ante diem festum Faschce" . Of. Montgomery Carmicliaol, " The Gospel read to 
S. Francis 'in transitu,' " in Dublin Review, April, 1903. 

5 Leg. Maj. xiv. 6 ; Celano, Tract, de Mirac. 32. 

'I Celano, 110; Leg. Maj. xiv. 6. According to Chron. xxiv. Gen. 
{Anal. Franc, in. p. 226), this brother was a Brother James. He is mentioned 
in the martyrology of Portunatus Hueber under 7 June. 


straight, and the dark flesh became exceeding white, and into 
the eyes long dull with disease, there came as it were the 
light of day. And then for the first time, most of them saw 
the five wounds of the stigmata ; and it seemed to them as 
though they were gazing upon the very Body of Christ 
Himself. And all that night crowds from the city came 
hurrying in to see this miracle which had been so carefully 
hid from the sight of men : and all the people wept aloud, 
but it was more for joy than for sorrow.^ Early the next 
morning they bore the body of the saint in solemn state to 
the little church of San Giorgio within the city, where 
Francis had learned his letters and preached his first 
sermon ; for the citizens would have no delay lest the Peru- 
gians might come swiftly and take the body. All the city, it 
seemed, took part in the procession : some held lighted 
tapers, but most of them carried boughs of olive and other 
trees ; and as they went along the singing of hymns alternated 
with the blare of trumpets. It was not the sad carrying of a 
man to his grave but the triumphant translation of a saint's 

Remembering the message Francis had sent to Clare from 
his death-bed, the brethren would not take the shorter way 
to the city through the great gate, but went round by San 
Damiano ; and there they carried the body into the church, 
and certain of the brothers took the body from its coffin and 
held it in their arms at the opened grille at which the sisters 
received the Holy Communion. Then Clare and all the 
sisters wept bitterly, realizing more poignantly their loss in 
the sweet presence of the dead. But when they all had 
kissed the wounded hands, the procession again formed and 

^I Celano, 112, 113. See the Letter of Brother Elias to Gregory of Naples 
(Bcehmer, Analekten, p. 90). 


went on its way until it came to the church of San Giorgio. 
There they laid the body in a temporary shrine to await the 
building of the great church which was to be the glory of 
the city and of all the land of Umbria. The day was the 
fourth of October, in the year 1226.^ 

Less than two years later, on 16 July, 1228, Francis was 
canonized by his friend Cardinal Ugolino, now become Pope 
under the title of Gregory IX. ^ And straightway by order 
of the Pontiff, Brother Elias set his imperious genius to the 
construction of the great church which was to be at once the 
saint's sepulchre and the monument of a world's homage.^ 
I-Iither on 25 May, 1230, the body of Francis was carried and 
secretly buried ; but the story of that second burial belongs 
not so much to the history of Francis as to another history.^ 
Even in its eager desire to honour him the world must needs 
kick against him, not understanding the spirit which dwelt 
in him. He was not of the world. And yet the world loved, 
and in its blundering fashion, worshipped him. It was so 
in his life ; it was even so in his death. But whilst the 
world went on its blundering way, there were some, and 
they were not a few, who both loved and understood. 
Francis had not lived in vain. 

' Of. I Celano, 116-18; Leg. Maj. xv. 1-G; Spec. Perfect, cap. 108; Fioreiti, 
IV. Gonsid. According to the ecclesiastical usage of the time, the day was 
reckoned from the decline of the sun, i.e. the hour of vespers, and not from 
midnight. Tlius Francis died according to our style of computing the day, at 
sunset on 8 October, and was buried on 4 October. 

2 The bull of canonization was published on 19 July. Cf. Sbaralea, Bull. 
I. p. 42 seq. 

■' By Papal authority money for the building of the church was collected 
throughout Europe. Cf. Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 46 ; Glassberger, in Anal. Frmvc. 
n. p. 56 

" Vide letter of Gregory IX " Speravimus," Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 66 seq. ; 
Eccloston, op. cit. pp. 80-82; Chron. xxiv. Gen. in Annl. Franc, iii. p. 212. 



That the Primitive Rule approved orally by Innocent III is contained in 
the so-called Regula Prima of 1221,' there can be, I think, little doubt. 

1. The Regula Prima professes in the prologue to be that confirmed 
by Innocent m. As the Regula Prima stands this would be impossible ; 
for Innocent III died in 1216, and many of the ordinances in that Rule 
are easUy traceable to a later date. Yet Francis would not have retained 
this prologue if the Primitive Rule was not incorporated in the Regula 

2. But anyone who reads the Regula Prima will be struck by its 
patchwork character as regards style : it has manifestly been built up by 
accumulation ; it is not homogeneous. 

At times the ingrafting of new additions is clumsily done, as e.g. 
cap. n. concerning the goods of novices ; cap. x., where it goes on to say 
that the brethren shall have no power or domination amongst themselves. 
Again there are repetitions, as though the legislator was re-enacting a 
former ordinance with increased emphasis ; e.g. in capp. ni. and ix. 
it is laid down that the brethren may eat of whatever food is set before 

Yet, again, the difference in character and style between different pas 
sages is very marked. There is a lack of consistency of tone. The voice 
of the idealist alternates at one time with that of the legalist, at another 
with that of the master evidently arguing with those who doubt ; e.g. 
compare cap. I. or cap. xiv. or the opening of cap. ix. with cap. xv. 
and cap. viii. ; and the difference is not merely a difference of subject- 
matter ; the tone is different : there is a difference in the immediate out- 
look, like the difference between sunshine and a grey day. Some of the 
passages glow with the simplicity of the apostle in the first time of his 
enthusiasm, with his idealism yet unbruised by experience with the world : 

' Of. Opuscula (Quaraochi), pp. 26-62. 

465 30 


and in these passages you find something of the sublime universality of 
the Gospel. Other passages are manifestly written in view of actual con- 
tingencies and lack the glow and joyous fervour of the former. 

3. Now it is undoubtedly those passages which glow with the sim- 
plicity of the idealism of the primitive Franciscan life, which belong to the 
Primitive Rule. The other passages were written afterwards to incorporate 
either capitular decrees, e.g. in cap. vn. the warning against " sad hypo- 
crites " ; or papal injunctions, e.g. in cap. ii. concerning novices and in 
cap. V. concerning those who wander about without obediences ; or they 
were ordinances made to meet new situations, as cap. xvi. concerning 
missions to the infidels, and cap. xviii. concerning the holding of Chapters, 

In one chapter — cap. xxii. — we have apparently a summary of St. 
Francis's admonitions to the brethren. 

Now in regard to the Primitive Rule, Celano tells us that Francis 
wrote it " for himself and his brethren, present and to come, simply and 
in few words," and that he used chiefly the words of the Gospel, after 
whoso perfection alone he aspired (I Celano, 32) ; and St. Bonaventure 
says : " He wrote for himself and his brethren in simple words a rule of 
life in which, taking the observance of the Gospel as an inviolable founda- 
tion, he inserted a few other things which seemed necessary for a uniform 
mode of life " {Leg. Maj. iii. 8). 

The Primitive Rule, therefore, was brief and chiefly consisted of 
passages from the Gospel, but with a few enactments necessary for the 
common life of the fraternity. 

M. Sabatier {Vie de S. Frangois, chap. iii. p. 101 seq.) asserts that 
the Primitive Rule was nothing else than the passages of the Gospel which 
Francis had read to his first companions — he evidently refers to the read- 
ing of the Gospel in the Church of St. Nicholas {vide supra) — together 
with certain regulations concerning manual labour and the occupations of 
the brethren. But this is putting a limitation upon the passages of the 
Gospel used by Francis in his Primitive Rule, which is unwarranted by 
the descriptions given by Celano and St. Bonaventure. 

We may surely assume that the dominant characteristics of the primi- 
tive life, as we know it from history, were reflected in the Primitive Rule, 
and that they for the most part found an evangelical formula there. And 
that is just what we find when we collect together those passages of the 
Regula Prima which bear the manifest impress of the primitive simplicity 
and idealism of the Franciscan spirit. Again, anyone conversant with 


the life and cliaracter of Francis would expect of the Primitive Rule that 
it would be almost exclusively an expression of principles rather than a 
code of practical regulations or of " constitutions ". Francis was from 
beginning to end an idealist and a poet. In the practical application of 
his ideals he waited on circumstance ; he made a practical regulation 
only when a situation arose, which demanded a practical decision, and then 
his decision was formulated by the occasion : he never seems to have run 
ahead of the occasion, but he waited until the actual demand for a 
decision came to him. Thus he acted in the various stages of his " con- 
version " : we find the same mode of action in the development of his 
vocation and apostolate. 

As regards the additions to the Primitive Rule in the Regula Prima, 
they may be summed up as : — 

1. Capitular ordinances. 

2. Judicial or prophetic warnings against evident dangers. 

3. Papal decrees. 

4. All that concerns the ministers, and also clerics as separate from 


5. Those passages which presuppose that the brethren are widely 

scattered, as where phrases of this sort occur : " universis fra- 
tribus " ; " ubicumque sunt " (or " fuerint "). 
With these principles of exegesis before us we may now proceed to 
give an analysis of the Regula Prima in detail. It will be seen that the 
result obtained differs in many instances from that arrived at by Karl 
MiiUer {Die Anfdnge des Minoritensordens, pp. 14-25) who seems to me 
to have included in the Primitive Rule certain portions of the Regula 
Prima which belong to a somewhat later date, and even passages which 
I incline to think were inserted as late as 1221. 


Text. Remarks. 

In nomine Primitive. 

Patris et Filii 
et Spiritus 
Sti. Amen. 





Haec est vita Primitive ; but probably inserted by the Pope, 

quam frater Celano in speaking of the Primitive Rule, quotes the 

Francisous phrase of this passage : " fratribus suis habitis et futu- 

petiit sibi con- ris " (I Celano, 32). 3 Soo. 52, says : " The other brothers 
cedi et confir- according to the precept of the lord Pope in like manner 
marl a domino promised obedience and reverence to the Blessed 
papa Inno- Francis ". 

centio. ... M. Sabatier (cf. De I'authenticite de la ligende de S. 

Et alii fratres Prangois, p. 20, note) denies that these words of 3 See. 
teneantur refer to the Primitive Rule ; but that is simply because 

fratri Fran- they militate against M. Sabatier's particular theory re- 
cisoo et ejus garding the Primitive Rule. 

successoribus Also it Ls asserted in Analecta Bollandiana, xix. p. 

obedire. 129, that the passage " Et alii fratres teneantur," eia., Sa 

an interpolation in the Regula Prima from the Rule of 
1223. But this is mere assumption. It is more probable 
that the words were transferred from the Regula I into 
the Regula II. 

* * 

• ■■ * * 

The whole of this chapter is primitive. The earliest 
life is entirely shaped by it ; e.g. in regard to the pas- 
sage from Matthew xtt. 29 : "Si quis vult venire ad me" 
etc., cf. 3 Soc. 45 : " Sollicite etiam petebant ne mitteren- 
tur ad terrain ubi nati erant," etc. 

Chapter I. 
Regula et vita 
fratrum . . . 
et vitam aater- 
nam possidebit. 

Chaptbk n. 
Si quis divina 
. . . recipiatur 
ab eis. 

Primitive. The words : "si quis divina inspiratione" 
are quite in St. Francis' style of speaking. Compare the 
idea of Divine calling in his words to Bro. Giles, Vita B. P. 
Aegidii [ed. Lemmens], p. 39. The phrase is used in 
the Porma vivendi Francis gave S. Clare (Opuscula [ed. 
Quaracchi], p. 75) and in Regula n. cap. xn. 

So also the words " benigne recipiatur ab eis " are 
quite characteristic of Francis' spirit. Cf . I Celano, 27- 
31 ; Vita B. P. Aegidii, loc. cit. i. pp. 39-40. 



Quodsi fuerit 
firmus acoi- 
pere . . . 
diligenter ex- 

This passage, as it stands, could only have been 
written after the institution of Ministers-Provincial in 
1217 ; and it is probably a regulation against some actual 
abuse. Francis himself advised and assisted Bernard da 
Quintavalle in disposing of his goods. But later experi- 
ence in this matter as in others, may have made Francis 
take a stricter view. 

Si vult et 
potest spiri- 
tualiter . . . 
studeat erogaro. 

* * 
Caveant autem 
alii pauperes 

This is certainly primitive. From the beginning 

Francis insisted upon the candidates distributing their 

goods to the poor. Probably the contingent phrase "si 

vult et potest spiritualiter et sine impedimento " was 

inserted by the Pope, as a measure of prudence. Cf. II 

Celano, 80, 81. 

* ♦ 

As it stands this passage is of later date. But some 
such prohibition of receiving any part of the goods of 
novices was in force quite early in the fraternity, as is 
evident from II Celano, 67. It is curious that the 
warning against meddling with the goods of novices is 
given twice, almost in the same words. Quite manifestly 
this chapter has been subjected to frequent interpola- 

Et cum Of later date. The regulations concerning novices are 

roversus . . . not earlier than 22 September, 1220, when Honorius III 

si necesse published the Bull " Gum secundum" (Bull. Franc, i, 

fuerit, p. 6). The permission to have two tunics is opposed to 

cingulum et primitive practice. Cf. I Celano, 39 : " Sola tunica erant 

braccas. contenti ". Cf. Spec. Perfect, cap. 3 ; Testamentum S. 

Et omnes fra- 
tres, vilibus . . . 
in domibus re- 
gum sunt. 

* * 





Efc licet dican- Doubtful. We read in Celano how tlie friars at an 

tur hypocritao early period were denounced aa hypocrites (I Celano, 46). 

. . . regno This admonition was probably designed to meet similar 

coelorum. circumstances. 

Chapter III. 
Dicit Domi- 
nus : Hoc 
genus . . . 
quolibet die. 

Of capitular origin. In the beginning of the Order the 
brethren said the Pater Noster and Adoramus Te Ghriste 
instead of the ecclesiastical office : as Celano and St. 
Bonaventure bear witness (I Celano, 45 ; Leg. Maj. iv. 
3). Celano gives as the reason that the brethren were 
ignorant of the ofiBoe : "in simplicitate spiritus ambu- 
lantes adhuc ecclesiasticum officium ignorabant ; " St. 
Bonaventure, that they had not the necessary books : 
"pro eo quod nondum ecclesiastlcos libros habebant ". 

Note that both Celano and St. Bonaventure are speak- 
ing of the time following the approbation of the Rule. 

The passages which allow the brethren who can read, 
whether clerics or lay-brothers, to have books for saying 
ofBoe can hardly have been put in on Francis' initiative : 
of. II Celano, 195 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 4. Probably 
these passages were inserted at a General Chapter on 
the initiative of the ministers. 

Omnes fratres Doubtful. Giordano da Giano (in Anal. Franc, i. p. 6) 

jej unent . . . says : ' ' secundum primam regulam fratres feria quarta 

secundem et sexta jejunabant ". From the beginning the brethren 

Evangelium. would observe the accustomed lents of the Church, and 

probably others according to their devotion. The lent 

preceding Christmas as it stands in the text is but a 

lengthening of the Advent Lent which in many places 

began at St. Martin's feast, and in other places at the 

beginning of Advent, It was Francis' intense devotion 

to the Sacred Incarnation which probably led him to 

lengthen this fast. Similarly his devotion to our Lord's 

earthly life led him to begin the Easter Lent immediately 

after the feast of the Epiphany, because on that day the 

Church celebrates (amongst other mysteries) the baptism 



of Jesus Christ, and immediately after His baptism our 
Lord began His fast in the desert. Quite possibly, there- 
fore, these fasts may have been of primitive observance ; 
as would also be the permission " to eat of all foods set 
before them". But whether the passage as it stands 
was substantially in the primitive Rule, is doubtful. In 
reference to Giordano's statement, it is noteworthy that 
the Humiliati fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays. 

Chapter IV. 

In nomine Do- 
mini omnes 
fratres, etc. 

* * 

Ohapteb, V. 

Ideoque ani- 
mas vestras 
. . , sed male 

Of later origin : probably capitular, after the establish- 
ment of the Provinces in 1217. 

Capitular ; after the institution of Chapters and minis- 

Omnes fratres 
non habeant 
aliquam potes- 
tatem . . . 
voluntarie ser- 
viant et obedi- 
ant invioem. 
Et haeo est vera 
et sancta obedi- 
entia D. N. J. 

Et omnes 
fratres . . . 
benedicti sint 
a Domino. 

Primitive. This passage as it stands is utterly unlike 
any legal enactment and breathes the simple evangelical 
idealism of St. Francis. Cf. 3 Soc. 41 seq. 

* * 

Capitular decree in view of the troubles of 1220. Cf. 
Bull "Cum Secundum," of 22 September, 1220. Cf. II 
Celano, 32-4 



Chapter VI. 

Fratres in 
locis . . . 
larel pedes. 

Cnpifcular : after institution of ministerB. 

But'the passage : " Ntdhis vocetur prior sed gmeraliiar 
omnes vocentur fratres minores " nriny be antei-ior to the 
preceding passages. Honorius III, in the Bull " Cum- 
Scciindiim," speaks of the ministers as "piiors," and it 
may have been that the passage was inserted in the Rulo 
at the Chapter of 1221, in consequence of this. On the 
other hand, Honorius III may have used the term in 
ignorance of the Kule^ which was not yot solemnly 

Chapter VII. 

Omnes fra- 
tres ... in 
eadem domo 

Doubtful. Celano relates that it was on hearing the 
words of the Rulo, " Et sint minores " being read aloud, 
that Francis exclaimed : "I will that this fraternity bo 
called the Order of Friars INtinor " (I Celano, 38). 

If we knew at what d<ato the brethren took the name 
of Friars Minor, we should have more exact ground 
upon which to base our decision as regards this passa'.;o. 
I incline to think that it was inserted very soon after 
the approbation of the Rule, with the rapid increase in 
the number of the brethren and their diffusion abroad. 

Possibly the wording of the opening paragraphs may 
have been slightly changed in a later revision of the 
Rule. Celano quotes the phrase alluded to as " Et sint 
minores" ; whereas the actual phrase is as: "sed sint 
minores ". 

Et Fratres qui Primitive. Cf. I Celano, 39-40. '^ IHebus vero mani- 

sciunt laboiare bus propriis qui noverant laborabant," etc. ; "Nullum 
. . . siout alii officiumexercere volebantde quo posset scandalumexorin," 
fratres. etc. Of. Testamentum S. Franc.: " Et ego manibus 

meis laborabani," etc. Also Vita B. F. JEgidii, loo. oit. 

p. 42 seq. 



Et liceat eis 
habere ferra- 
menta et in- 
strumenta suis 
artibus necea- 

Doubfcful. From the style T think it to be a some- 
■vrhat later addition. 

Omnes fratres 
studeant bonis 
operibus . . 
insistere de- 

Later : probably inserted by Cassar of Spoyer in 
1221. The quotations are from SS. Jerome and Anselm. 
(of. Opuscula, p. 34, notes 1 and 2.) 

Caveant sibi 
fratres . . 
benigne re- 

Later. As it stands this paragraph is of later date 
when the brethren had acquired " loci " and hermit- 

Et caveant sibi Capitular. Cf. II Oelano, 128. 

. . . conveni- 
enter gratiosos. 

* ♦ 

* * ♦ ♦ 

Chapter Vm. 

Dominus prae- 
cipit . . . cir- 


* * 

Chapter IX. 
Omnes fratres 
studeant . . . 
vadant pro 


* * 

Et non vere- 
cundentur . . . 
praemium a 

Later. Evidently from tho admonitory style it was 
written in view of certain dangers or abuses. 

Primitive. Cf. Spec. Perfect, [ed. Sabatier], cap. 44 ; 
[ed. Lemmens], no. 12. 

Later : probably originally an admonition addressed 
to the brethren. 

Cf. Spec. Perfect, [ed. Sabatier], cap. 18 ; Lemmens, 
De Legenda Veteri in Doc. Antiqua, fasc. n. p. 94. 



Et secure . 
non habct 

Chapter X. 
Si quis fra- 
trum, etc. 

* * 
Chapteb. XI. 

Et omnes fra- 
tres . . . 
Servi in utiles 
sum us. 

Also cf. Epistola i. in Opuscula, p. 91: "Homines 

enim omnia perdunt," etc. 

* * 

Later. The passage referring to the use of foods : 
" Et quandocumque neccssitas supervenerit," etc., is 
probably capitular decree of 1221, in answer to the in- 
novations of the Vicars-General during Francis' absence 
in the East. Cf. Chron. Jordani, no. 11, in Anal. 
Franc, i. p. 4. 

* * 

Later. I judge this from the style (e.g. " Ubicumque 
fiierit "). There is a summary of this chapter in II 
Celano, 175. 

Primitive. It sets forth one of the most distinguishing 
marks of the first friars — their fear of useless and un- 
charitable words. Cf. 3 Soc. 46 et passim ; I Celano, 
41, .54. Cf. II Celano, 182, where there is an evident 
comparison between the primitive and later days. 

Et non iras- 
cantur, etc. 

Chapter XII. 
Omnes fra- 
tres, etc. 

Doubtful. From the interweaving of scriptural texts 
taken mostly from the epistles I doubt whether it can be 
ascribed to St. Francis. Jlore Ukely it is the work of 
Caesar of Speyer. Cf. Chron. Jordani, no. 15, in ^?iaL 
Franc, i. p. 6. 

* * 

Later. It contemplates the presence of priests amongst 
the brethren, whereas it is doubtful whether there was 
even one priest amongst those who went with Francis to 
Rome. Moreover, Francis himself received SS. Clare 
and Agnes to obedience in 1212 ; also the anchoress 
Praxedis. Cf. Celano, Trac. de Mirac. 181. This regu- 
lation, therefore, must have been of later origin. 

incline to regard this chapter as written in 1221, on 
account of the abuses of John de Compello and others. 



Cf. Ghron. Jordani, no. 13, in Anal. Franc, i. p. 5. 
Possibly, however, the first paragraph was written earlier 
than 1221. The exacting of oaths of obedience was a 
very common practice in the thirteenth century. Master 
would thus bind their scholars to follow them. Cf. 
Rashdall, Universities, Vol. I. p. 172. 

Chapter XIII. 

Si quis, etc. 


* * 

Chapter XIV. 
Quando fratres, 

* * 
Chapter XV. 

Injungo omni- 
bus, etc. 

Later. (Cf. "habitu ordinis ".) 


* * 

Primitive, cf. I. Oelauo, 17 ; 3 Soc. ii. 

Later. (Cf. "tam clericis tarn laicis ".) 

Chapter XVI. 

Dicit Dominus, 



* * 

Chapter XVII. 
NuUus fra- 
trum, etc. 


* * 

Chapter XVIII. 

Quolibet anno, 


Later, written in view of foreign missions, probably in 
1219 or 1221. 

Later, after institution of ministers ; and probably 
not earlier than 1220. 

Later, after institution of the Chapters. 

* * 
Chapter XIX. 

Omnes fratres 
sint catholici, 

Primitive. The phrase " a nostra fratemitate " indi- 
cates a very early origin. The following admonition to 
respect the clergy is also probably primitive- Cf. I 
Celano, t6 ; Testamentum S. Franc. 


Chaptek XX. 
Fratres moi Ijater. Cf. Epistok iii. in Ojmscwla, p. 108. 

" benedicti," 

it** * * 


Et hanc vel Primitive. Cf. Vita B. F. Aegidn,\oc. cit. p. 41; 

talem exhor- 3 Soc. 33. 

tationem, etc. 

* # 

* * * * 

Chapter XXII. 

Afctendamus. Later. Cf. Epistola i. in Opuscula, pp. 89 and 94, 

for similar exhortations. 

Chapter XXIII. 

Omnipotens Later. (Cf. " Fratres IMinores ".) This and preceding 

. . . detes- 
tabilis est in 


* * 

In nomine 
Domini rogo 
omnes fratres 
. . . et repo- 
nant haec. 


* * 

Et ex parte 
Dei . . . 

* * 

Gloria Patri, 


chapter probably worked up by Caesar of Speyer. 

Probably primitive. Compare the ending up of the 


Later : probably 1221. Cf. Spec. Perfect, [ed. Saba- 
tier], cap. 68 : " Et idea volo quod noii nominetis mihi 
aliquam regulam," etc. 

Probably primitive. 



The argumenta against the authenticity of the Indulgence are based on 
two principal accounts : the silence of the first biographers and chroniclers, 
and the well-known repugnance of St. Francis to seek special privileges 
from the Roman Court. We will take this second objection first. It can 
indeed hardly be said to bear examination. 

That St. Francis did forbid his friars to apply to the Roman Court 
for privileges is well known. At the same time he himself sought and 
accepted certain very great privileges. 

He went to Rome for the confirmation of his Rule, though at the 
time there was no law obliging him to do so ; he accepted the commission 
to preach and asked for the appointment of a Cardinal Protector. Hence 
he could not have meant to forbid the seeking for or acceptance of all 
favours from the Holy See. We must understand then the sort of privi- 
leges he meant to ban from the fraternity. It is evident from his own 
writings, e.g. his Testament, that he had in view privileges which he con- 
sidered detrimental to the profession of evangelical humility and meekness, 
and especially such as would make the friars independent of the bishops 
and clergy in the prosecution of their missionary enterprise. Such was 
Francis' reverence for the priesthood that he would have his fraternity 
submissive to all bishops and priests in aU matters that pertained to their 
office : he would not preach in any parish without the consent of the parish 
priest, nor would he dwell in any place without the bishop's leave. (Cf. 
Regula II. cap. ix. ; Testamentum S. Franc.) If the clergy opposed the 
brethren in their ministry, the brethren were to gain over their goodwill, 
not by recourse to the Holy See, but by obedience and reverence (II 
Celano, 146, 147). But the Porziuncola indulgence was in no sense a 
privilege of immunity for the brethren : it was a measure of mercy for all 
repentant souls ; it in no way set the brethren above the clergy or other 



people, but wms an outpouring of God's grace upon the world. That at 
least was how Francis viewed it. Nor could the indulgence have been 
obtained in any other way than by the authority of the Pope. No bishop 
could grant such an indulgence. 

This objection, therefore, so far as it affects the authenticity of the 
indulgence, falls to the ground. 

But the silence of the first biographers and chroniclers is a more valid 
objection. Whichever way we take it, this silence is a difficulty. Neither 
Celano nor Saint Bonaventure, nor the Speculum Perfectionis, nor any of 
the primitive legendists as much as refer to it. The chapter in the 
traditional Legend of the Three Companions is evidently a later addition.' 

P. Ehrle, S. J., has indeed made a discovery which may prove of 
primary importance in the ultimate solution of this question. In a cata- 
logue of MSS. which belonged in 1375 to the papal library at Avignon he 
found this indication : Item in volumine signato per G epistole Augustini, 
Soliloquium Augustini, meditaciones Ancelmi, Hugo de claustro animce, 
plures epistolm fratris Bonaventurw de evangelica paupertate, de indulgentia 
Beatce Marice Portuensi Assisii. ..." (Gt. Ehrle, Bibliotheca Romanorum 
Pontificum, vol. I. p. 463.) But uutil the letter " de indulgentia," itself 
is brought to light one cannot use it as evidence upon the mere indication 
of a catalogue ; for it was not uncommon to attribute to famous writer,s, 
writings which they never wrote. Consequently I cannot follow Mgr. 
Faloci-Pulignani in his conclusions based upon this reference. (Cf- Misc. 
Franc, vol. x. p. 69, quoted with approval by P6re Ren^, O.M. Cap. in 
Etudes Franciscaines^ tom. XX. p. 375, note 1.) 

The question now is as to the motive of this silence. At best the argu- 
ment from silence is a negative argument, and if we can find a probable 
motive, the value of the silence is largely, if not altogether, discounted. 
Various motives have been suggested. P6re Gratien, O.M. Cap. {Ptudes 
Franciscaines, tom. xviii. p. 481) suggests that in the beginning the 
indulgence had not the important character it afterwards assumed, and 
thinks this a sufficient explauation of the maintained silence. 

' It is true the chapter on the indulgence appears in the reconstituted 
version o£ the 3 Soo. published by Padri Maroellino da Givezza and Teoiilo 
Dominichelli ; but this reconstituted text has yet to prove its own authen- 
ticity, notwithstanding the doughty championship of M. Paul Sabatier who 
is wholly in its favour. Gf. Bartholi, Tractatus de Indulgentia, ed. Sabatier, 


But the indulgence was undoubtedly an unusual favour for those 
days, and could not have been regarded otherwise,' nor can we think that 
in enumerating the exceptional privileges of the Porziuucola chapel (cf. 
I Celano, 106 ; II Celano, 18-20 ; Spec. Perfect, cap. 83 ; 3 Soc. cap. 
XHi.) the biographers, anxious as they were to set forth the sanctity of the 
place, would have omitted mention of so special a favour without some 
special reason. 

Granting then that the indulgence really existed, we are driven to 
attribute the silence to a deliberate policy. Were there reasons for a 
policy of silence ? Upon this point the story of the indulgence — the 
authenticity of which we shall examine further on — gives a clear indication. 
It tells us how the granting of the indulgence by the Pope aroused oppo- 
sition amongst the cardinals. They wished Houorius to revoke the grant ; 
and when he refused to revoke it altogether, they prevailed upon him to 
limit its operation to one day in the year, namely 2 August. Now we know 
that even towards the end of the thirteenth century and during the 
fourteenth, there was still opposition to the indulgence ; and the story 
indicates that opposition was started against it from the first. Nor is the 
opposition unintelligible. "If this indulgence is granted," urged the 
cardinals, "it will bring to nought the indulgence for going beyond the 
seas [i.e. for the crusades] and people wdl think nothing of the indulgence 
to be gained at St. Peter's." The indulgence would, so to speak, in- 
fringe the monopoly of the constituted holy places. It is not at all 
unlikely that the friars, in deference to the wishes of the Curia, would 
cease to proclaim the indulgence, lest it should lessen the devotion of 
the people towards St. Peter's and the crusades ; especially since the 
friars were shortly appointed by the Holy See as the accredited collectors 
for the crusades. 

It may very well have been felt too that silence was necessary not 
merely to benefit the Holy Land, but to prevent the formal revocation of 
the indulgence. Yet I can hardly allow that a policy of silence based on 
expediency would have commended itself to Brother Leo and the Saint's 

' Pfere Ren6, loo. oit. pp. 349-50, asserts that plenary indulgences were 
not so rare at the time as has been generally held; but his instances are all 
of a generation later than St. Francis, when possibly a more liberal policy 
was adopted by the Holy See in consequence of the granting of the Porziun- 
cola indulgence. Precedents have a way of repeating and even expanding 


oompaniona, had it not been imposed upon them ag a sacred duty by 
Francis himself. Their zeal would assuredly have escaped their discretion. 
But those who know the character o£ Francis will have no difficulty 
in attributing this silence partly to Francis himself. It is quite what 
one would expect that, seeing the opposition of the cardinals to the in- 
dulgence, Francis would not allow any open conflict to arise between the 
friars and the Curia. He would not have the indulgence cradled in any 
breach of charity nor in even the appearance of hostility towards the 
clergy. Just as he would not use the privilege of preaching granted him 
by the Holy See, when the bishops were opposed to it ; so he would not 
preach the indulgence in the face of their opposition, but would leave it, 
as he would say, in the care of God Who would make it manifest in His 
own time. And in fact the official vdtneases expressly tell us that Francis 
did impose this silence at least until his own death. For according to 
the testimony of Giaoomo Coppoli, the friend of Brother Leo, Francis 
told Leo : ""Keep this secret until the day of my death," etc. Of. Bar- 
tholi, Tract, de Indulgentia, ed. Sabatier, p. liii. 

The silence of the first biographers is therefore no invalidating argu- 
ment, provided the positive evidence in favour of the indulgence can bear 
scrutiny. We come then to the attesting evidence. 

"\\'e may follow M. Paul Sabatier in classifying this evidence into two 
groups : the official evidence and the popular. (Of. Bartholi, Tractatus 
de Indulgentia, ed. Sabatier, Introduction, p. xxxviii seq.) The first 
official evidence comes to us from the second half of the thirteenth 
century. In 1277 Brother Angelo, Minister-Provincial of Umbria, set 
himself to collect what evidence might stUl be gathered concerning the 
granting of the indulgence ; and thus he obtained certain written attesta- 
tions subscribed by a public notary. 

There was the evidence of Benedict of Arezzo, who had lived with 
St. Francis, and who heard the story of the indulgence from Brother 
Masseo himself who was with St. Francis when the indulgence was 
granted : also the attestations of a certain Giaoomo Coppoli, a citizen of 
Perugia, who repeated what he had heard from Brother Leo ; of Pietro 
Zalfani, who was present at the promulgation of the indulgence ; and of 
Brother Oddo, and others. 

As to what M. Sabatier styles the "popular" witness to the indul- 
gence—that is, its story as handed down on the lips of the people— we 
have an example in the statement attributed to a " Michaelo Bernardi 


formerly of Spello ". According to this statement Michaelo Bernardi 
heard the story of the indulgence one day when he visited the Porziun- 
cola and found there Peter Cathanii and others of the saints' companions 
talking amongst themselves ahout the gi'anting of the indulgence. In 
this statement we iind details which are lacking in the official evidence, 
and which at first sight are in contradiction with it. Thus in the ofijcial 
evidence it is stated that the Pope was at Perugia when Francis went 
to him ; in the statement of Michaelo Bernardi, Francis goes to Rome 
to see the Pope. Again, Michaelo Bernardi makes Christ himself fix 
the second day of August for the gaining of the indulgence ; and his 
narrative is adorned with picturesque details, e.g. of the miraculous 
roses. Bernardi's statement was incorporated in the diploma of Bishop 
Conrad of Assisi, published in 1335. M. Sabatier and Pere Gratien 
entirely reject this story as a work of popular imagination creating its 
own beliefs. Papini {Storia di San Francesco, li. p. 242) had already 
questioned whether Michaelo Bernardi had even existed ; but Spader 
(quoted by Sabatier, op. cit. p. Lxxxviii, note 1), asserts that a Pietro 
Bernardi was a member of the Cancelleria of Assisi in 1228, and that in 
1360 members of the family were still living in Spello. 

That Bernardi's statement manifests a love of the marvellous none 
ft'ill deny. But it is not to be put aside too lightly. In some respects it 
is consistent with known historical facts. It speaks of Francis taking 
Peter Cathanii to Rome in the month of January. Honorius certainly was 
in Rome in January, both in 1217 and in 1221. (Cf. Pressutti, Reg. 
Hon. m. pp. 38 and 48.5) ; Peter Cathanii did not die till 10 March, 1221. 
Hence those who accept Bernardi's statement hold that it refers not to the 
original grant of the indulgence made at Perugia in 1216 ; but to a second 
journey undertaken either in January, 1217 or 1221, to get the Pope to 
determine a definite day for the indulgence, which had not yet been fixed. 
(Cf. P. Panfilo, Storia di S. Fran. i. p. 331.) The Chron. xxiv. Gen. 
{Anal. Franc, in. p. 29) dates the grant of the indulgence in 1221. 
Wadding follows this date for the original grant, but mentions a second 
journey in 1223. There may indeed be a substratum of historical 
truth in Bernardi's recital : but that is the most that can be said for 

We must now take note of another class of evidence — whib one may 
call the undesigned evidence left by witnesses who had no intention of 
giving evidence, but who merely mention the indulgence as a m^ttter of 



fact. Evidence of this sort is all the more convincing simply because it 
is unintentional. We have two instances of the kind. 

In 1280 the Minister-General Bonagrazia forbade the friars to receive 
offerings of money in the church of the Porziuncola on the day of the 
indulgence : ^ and this witness is the more important because Bonagrazia 
was an opponent of the Spirituals and would not have tolerated any 
doubtful privilege which tended to exalt the Porziuncola over the basilica 
of San Francesco, which was, so to speak, the camp of the party of the 
Community in the Order. We may take it, therefore, that the indulgence 
must have been well e.staljlished by 1280. 

The second instance is the statement of Ubertino da Casale in the 
first prologue to hi.s first book of the Arbor Vitm, to the effect that he himself 
visited the Porziuncola on 2 August, 1284, or 1285, to gain the indulgence. 

In the face of this "undesigned" evidence it is difficult to follow the 
contention of Dr. Kirsch {Der Portiuncula Ablass in Tkeol. Quartal- 
schrift, 1906, 1 and 2) that the indulgence was concocted by the Spirituals 
between 1288 and 1295. Whatever may be said as to the origin of the 
indulgence, it was clearly drawing pilgrims to the Porziuncola in 1280 and 
was then a well-established event, and Dr. Kirsch's theory that the in- 
dulgence was concocted by the Spirituals between 1288 and 1295 falls 
to the ground. 

But what about the "official" evidence ? for, of course, the authen- 
ticity of the attribution of the indulgence depends chiefly upon that. 

Dr. Kirsch and Joh. Joergensen consider the " attestations of 1277 " 
to be a mere forgery penned at or after the time that the Spirituals, as 
they contend, were striving to foist the indulgence upon the conscience 
of Christendcjm. They object in the first place that the original docu- 
ment of the attestations has yet to be found ; and in the second place 
they appeal to the internal witness of the attestations themselves for 
their own condemnation. 

Now it is quite true that the original document of the attestations is 
unknown ; but the attestation of Benedict of Arezzo exists in au authentic 
document of the thirteenth century and in another document the date of 
which is more uncertain but which nevertheless is not later tlian the be- 
ginning of the fourteenth century.- Bishop Theobald refers explicitly 

' Anal. Franc, ni. p. 373. 

-Of. M. Sabatier; Bartholi, pp. xliv-xlix; P. Holzapfel in Archiv. Franc. 
Hist. an. I. fasc. i. p. 38. 


to the attestations in his diploma of 1310. The objection on the score 
of the dis ippearauce of the original document is not one to be pi'essed 
too far, else it would reduce all history into a very small compass. What 
purported to be copies of the attestations were certainly known before 
the end of the thirteenth century and in the beginning of the four- 

Of greater weight would be any objections established from the 
internal testimony of the documents themselves. 

Of all the attestations three are of first importance, as giving us 
original details of the story of the indulgence — the attestations of 
Benedict and Rainerio of Arezzo, of Pietro Zalfani, and of Giaoomo 

Dr. Kirsch objects to the attestation of Benedict and Rainerio of 
Arezzo, that they profess to have received the story of the indulgence 
from Brother Masseo, the companion of St. Francis. Accepting the 
statement of Wadding that this Brother Masseo died in 1280, Dr. Kirsch 
asks why Brother Masseo himself was not called as a witness in 1277 ? 
Dr. Kirsch ought surely to have known that Wadding's dates are un- 
reliable, and in fact it has been proved that the Masseo who died in 
1280 was another religious of that name and not the saint's companion. 
But Joergensen objects that Benedict of Arezzo was a man given to 
seeing the marvellous, and therefore altogether unreliable as a witness. 
He bases this statement upon the biography of the friar written by one, 
Nannes, in 1302, in which the most extraordinary events are chronicled.^ 
But one may well ask how far the description of these marvels is to be 
attributed to Benedict himself and how far to an imaginative biograplier 1 
Authentic accounts of Benedict of Arezzo show him to have been a 
trusted counsellor in the affairs of the Order. He filled the office of 
Miaister-Provincial for thirty years, from 1217 to 1239. And the 
account he gives in his attestation is purely matter-of-fact and without 
any indication of the marvellous. 

As to the attestation of Zalfani, Joergensen rejects it on the ground 
that Zalfani says St. Francis held a paper in his hand when he was 
announcing the indulgence. "Without doubt," says Joergensen, "in 

'Cf. P. Lemmens, Catalogus S. Fratrum Mi}iorum, p. 6. 
2Gf. P. Golubovich, BibUoteca, i. pp. 12'.J-48; Ada SS. Augusti, vi. p. 

31 * 


the mind of the old man that paper was the papal bull ; though [he adds] 
they tell us that Francis obstinately refused to accept one." But what- 
ever may have been iu the mind of Zalfaui, he certainly does not say 
that it was a papal bull : that is only Joergensen's reading of Zalfani's 
mind ! 

Both Kirsoh and Joergenaen reject the evidence of Giacomo Coppoli 
on the ground that it contradicts the attestation of Zalfani. In Coppoli's 
al testation St. Francis, after relating the story of the indulgence to 
Brother Leo, is said to have told him: "Keep this a secret until the 
day of my death ". But how could Francis have bidden Leo keep the 
indulgence a secret if it was already promulgated in the presence of 
seven bishops 1 

Tliis objection surely strains at mere words. The explanation I have 
given in the text (p. 195) is perfectly natural, that it was in face of the 
continued and growing opposition that Francis afterwards inculcated 
.silence on his companions.' 

In fact the attestations have two strong points in their favour : they 
are (|uite simple and matter-of-fact in tone : whilst giving separate sup- 
plementary details, they are in no wise contradictory of each other and 
it may be added, they in no wise contradict the story of St. Francis as it 
is authentically known to us. 

Taking the evidence, then, as it stands, we find that the indulgence 
was well-establi.shed in 1280 and that the " official " attestations bear the 
marks of credibility. 

But there is yet another (juestion to be considered. Would the 
Holy See have allowed the indulgence to stand if there were not some 
strong tradition to sanction it? It must be remembered that about 1280 
and for some years afterwards there was clamorous opposition to the indul- 
gence on the part of the clergy at large. Moreover inside the Franciscan 
Order there was the strife between the Friars of the Community who 
regarded the Sagro Convento as the mother-house of the Order, and the 
Spirituals who gave that title to the Porziuncola. In 1288 Pope Nicholas 
IV granted indulgences for visiting the basilica of the Sacro Convento on 
its dedication day. Would he have allowed the Porziuncola indulgence 

' I pass over the objection raised on the score that according to Coppoli 
Francis bade Leo keep the secret until his (Leo's) death. It is based on the 
reading of one of the MSS ; "usque ad mortem tuam". But the MS. oi 
Florence and that o£ Volterra have ; " usque ad diem mortis mea ". 


to stand without a now and special grant had it been only newly heard of 1 
We know how in 1296 Boniface VIII revoked a similar indulgence granted 
by his predecessor to the church of (JoUoiuaggio ; would he have allowed 
tlie Porziuncola indulgence to continue in spite of the opposition to it, it 
there were any doubt that it was already long established and authentic ? 

The toleration of the indulgence by the Holy See towards the end of 
the thirteenth century suggests that the indulgence must ha\ e been long 
in existence and that its authenticity was then unquestioned by the high- 
est authority. 

In short, the rejection of the authenticity of the indulgence raises 
questions as difficult to answer as does its acceptance. 


(1) P. Sabatier : Fr. Bartholi, Tractatus de Indulgentia S. Marice de 

Portiuncula. Cf. De testimonio B. Benedicti de Aretio in Arch. 
Franc. Hist. an. iv. fasc. iii. 

(2) Against the authenticity : — 

Dr. Anton Kirsch : £>er Portionktda-Ablass in Theol. Quartal- 
schrift, 1906, I. and ii. ; Joh. Joergensen : Saint Frangois 
d' Assise, livre in. chap. in. (Cf. ibid. Appendix I, written 
for the French edition, in which the author modifies his 
conclusions. In the English translation which has come to 
hand whilst this book was in the press, I find that Joergen- 
sen has re-written his chapter on the indulgence and now 
admits the authenticity.) Van Ortroy, S.J., in Anal, 
Bolland. xxvi. p. 140. 

(3) For the authenticity : — 

P. Sabatier : TJn nouveau chapitre de la Vie de S. Frangois ; 
Pfere Gratien, O.M. Cap. in Etudes Franciscaines, tom. 
xviii. p. 478 seq. Mgr. Faloci Pulignani : Oli storici 
dell' Indulgenza delta Porziuncula in Misc. Franc, vol. 
X. p. 65 seg. P. Holzapfel, O.F.M. : Entstehvmg des Por- 
tiuncula- Ahlesses in Archiv. Franc. Hist. an. i. fas. i. p. 
31 seg. P. Rene, O.M. Cap. : L' Indulgence de la Por- 
tiuncula, in Etudes Franciscaines, tome xx. p. 337 seg. 
Dr. Alf. Fierens : De geschied Kundige oorsyrong van den 
aflaat van Portiunkula. 



The earliest copy of the Rule of the Third Order at present known to us 
dates only from 30 March, 1228, seven years, that ia, after the institution 
of the Brothers of Penance. This copy was discovered a few years since 
amongst the documents of the Franciscan friary of Capestrano in tht 
Abruzzi, by Prof. Vmceuzo de Bartholom?eia and edited by M. Paul 
Sabatier in Opuscules de Critique Historique, torn. i. fasc. i. under the 
title Eegula Antiqua Fratrum et Sororum de Paenitentia. 

M. Sabatier does not regard this Capestrano Rule as the original 
Rule of the Third Order. According to him the first twelve chapters had 
their origin shortly after the death of St. Francis ; and the thirteenth 
chapter, about 1230.' It holds the same relationship, he thinks, to the. 
original Rule of the Penitents as the Rule of 1223 holds to the primitive 
Rule of the Friars Minor.^ P. Maudonnot, O.P., on the other hand, 
hulds that the Capestiano Rule, with the exception of the thirteenth 
chapter, is the original Rule of 1221. ^ Yet again, Boehmer in his collec- 
tion of the writings of St. Francis, ranks this Rule amongst the "spuri- 
ous " works ; •■ whilst W. Goetz holds that it is a more mosaic ot legislative 

To me it seems that the first twelve chapters of the Capestrano Rule '^ 

■ Regula Antiqua, pp. 10-11. Another version of this Rule from a MS. in 
the Royal Library at Konigsberg, was published by Father Lemmens, O.P.M., 
in Archivum Franc. Hist. April, 1913. 
^ibid. p. 10, note 2. 

" Les Rigl'S et le Ooavernement de I'Ordo de Pcenitentia au xiii" aUcle— 
Opuscules de Critique Hist. tom. i. faso. iv. 
* Analekten, p. 73. 

^DieRegeldes Tertiarierordens, in Zeitschrift fiir Kirchengeschichte, vol. 
XXIII. p. 'J7 seq. 

The thirteenth chapter of the Capestrano Rule is manifestly a collection of 
local statutes added on to the original text. Such statutes would correspond 
to tlie decrees of the chapters amongst the Friars Minor, and not unlikely were 
the actual decrees of chapters held by the PeniLenijii, 


are a revision of bhe original Rule, made shortly after Ugolino's elevation 
to the Papal throne, and that the revision represents the substitution as 
the dominant principle in the fraternity, of the prohibition to take the 
feud-oath in place of the renunciation of superfluous wealth. 

From the beginning the prohibition of the feud-oath was a leading 
idea in the formation of the fraternity, and undoubtedly the prohibition 
was in accord with the mind of Francis. But whereas Francis thought 
chiefly of the moral causes of the feud-spirit, namely avarice and secular 
ambition, and was intent upon developing both love of God and of man by 
means of evangelical poverty, Ugohno, with a statesman's instinct, looked 
directly to the legal means by which the feud-spirit might be combated. 
Ugolino's conception, in other words, was that of a religious corporation 
protected by the Church in its refusal to undertake the oath and military 
service, whilst Francis saw in the fraternity a spiritual family bound 
together in a love of evangelical poverty and in evangelical charity. 

In all probability the original Rule approximated more nearly to that 
of the Humiliati than does the Capestrano Rule, inasmuch as there is 
reason to believe that it contained the ordinances concerning the distri- 
bution of superfluous income and also the admonitions concerning 
conjugal chastity. As we have seen, the practice of the first Franciscan 
tertiaries was to distribute the wealth which they did not require for 
their own modest needs ; for Ugolino himself, as Gregory IX, on 30 
March, 1228, issued the bull " Detestanda," in which he forbade the 
penitents from being hindered in this practice by the secular author- 
ities.' And as regarding the precept concerning conjugal chastity, it is 
noteworthy that the Penitents were also known as " Continentes," " the 
continent," which shows that they made a special profession of chastity, 
even as the Humiliati did.^ 

' Vide supra, p. 287. 

"Ordo Gontiiwntium is a style frequently used in public documents to de- 
signate the tertiaries. (Cf. Sbaralea, Biillar. i. p. 99, note f.) One of St. 
Francis' nephews is described as " Picardus Contineng " ; i.e. Picardo, of the 
Third Order, is an ancient genealogy given by Ant. Grigtofani, in Delle Storie 
[ed. 1902], p. 51. Of. also Bartholi, Tract, de. Indulgentia [ed. Sabatier], pp. 
70, 86 ; also Fioretti, in. Consid. delle Stim. A religious community of tertiary 
sisters was existing in Germany in 1233 under the title of " Virgines Contin- 
entes " (Sbaralea, ibid. p. 108). The appellation must have had reference 
directly to conjugal chastity, considering that it was chiefly for married 


It would be interesting were we able to determine precisely the 
motives which induced Ugolino to delete these regulations from the 
Rule, supposing them to have really formed part of the original Rule. In 
the absence of documentary evidence wo can only fall back upon con- 
jecture. It is possible that, as the tertiaries increased in numbers and 
came to take in a very large section of the community, the practice 
of an annual distribution of superfluous wealth may have tended to pro- 
duce economic results which in the opinion of the Holy See, as well as of 
the civic authorities, may have been injurious to the common welfare. It 
would undoubtedly interfere with the industrial development of the 
State, and that was a matter of much concern to the Italian communes in 
the thirteenth century, whose very independence rested upon industrial 
prosperity. Ugolino therefore may well have considered that on this point 
the magistrates and governors had a legitimate grievance. It would be dif- 
ferent were the tertiaries comparatively few in number : then their action 
would not greatly affect the State : but in some places the greater part of 
the citizens became tertiaries and then their withdrawal from industrial 
enterprise would undoubtedly be a set-back to the commune. 

As to the law of conjugal chastity, Ugolino may have considered that 
the common precept of the Gospel in this matter was sufficient, and that a 
special precept in the Rule of the Penitents might tend to foster a practice 
which if it became widespread, would frustrate the very object of Christian 
marriage. We know that there was a tendency amongst married penitents 
to bind themselves by mutual agreement to live as brother and sister. Such 
a practice when confined to the few, doubtless had a good effect upon the 
community in the way of self-restraint and regard for purity : but if such 
a practice became general it would lead to obvious moral and social dan- 
gers. Moreover in the actual condition of Italy, seeing how the peninsula, 
especially in the central and northern provinces, was inoculated with the 
tenets of the Oathari and Patarini, there was a danger lest amongst the 
common people, the practice of distributing superfluous wealth and of 
renouncing marriage rights, might develop into the communism and the 
Manichean view of marriage, preached by the heretics. This danger 
became imminent since the Third Order was thrown wide open to all 
Catholics of whatever rank or condition. 

persons that the fraternity was instituted : but it not unfrequently happened 
that married penitents mutually consented to live accordinw to the evangeli- 
cal council. A case of this sort is mentioned in II Celano. 33. 


Such reasons might well have led Ugolino to revise the Rule ' in the 
direction of concentrating the corporate purpose of the fraternity upon a 
matter which could be more directly supervised by the ecclesiastical au- 
thorities and which was of vital concern to the papal policy, namely the 
suppression of the claim of the secular authority to enforce military 
service in pursuance of civic feuds or against the Church. 

On the other hand, the regulations concerning dress, food and the 
religious exercises of the Penitents found in the Capestrano Rule are 
probably derived from the original Rule. They are evidently based upon 
the Rule of the Humiliati. 

As to the government of the fraternity, the Capestrano Rule implies 
that the Penitents are governed by their own ministers," but under the 
judicial supervision of a visitor whose duty it is to correct abuses and 
punish delinquents. The visitor has the power to dispense the brethren 
from particular observances of the Rule in cases of necessity, and also to 
expel recalcitrant members.^ It is not said in the Rule that the visitor, 
shall be a Friar Minor ; though one of the additional statutes ordains 
that "the visitor and ministers of this fraternity shall ask the minister or 
custos of the Friars Minor for a Friar Minor from the convent, and that 
this fraternity be governed and ruled by the advice of this friar and by 
the will of the friars ' '. 

Now according to Bernard de Besse the Penitents in the beginning 
had Friars Minor as their ministers and only later on chose their minis- 
ters from their own body.'' P. Mandonnet argues tliat the period when 
the Penitents were under the jurisdiction of Friars Minor as their minis- 
ters, was before 1221 ; and this is indeed one of his grounds for asserting 
that before that year the friars and the penitents formed one organic fra- 

' A statement in Annales Wormatiennes (Mon. Oenn. Script, tom. xvii. 
p. 75) merits attention. Under the year 1227 appears this passage : " Ordo 
Pcenitentium eodem anno a papa confirmatur". If this could be taken as 
authentic evidence one might suppose that in that year the revision of 
the Rule was made with a view to a more solemn approbation by the Holy 
See. But the Annales Wonnatienses are not always exact. Thus under the 
J ear 1208 we find; •' Eodem anno i7icepAt ordo Fratrum Minorum et Pr^di- 

2Cf. capp. 7, 8, 10, 12. 8Ct. cap. 12. 

*Gf. Lib. de Laud. {pp. cit. p. 76). 


temity.i But this argument is based upon the assumjjtion that the 
Capestrano Rule is that of 1221. As a matter of fact we have no evidence 
to show whether the ministers of the Penitents before 1228 were chosen 
from the friars or from the Penitents themselves, except the evidence of 
Bernard de Besse. 

But the additional statute to the Capestrano Rule to which we have 
just referred shows that in 1228, although the Penitents had their local 
ministers chosen from their own body, they were yet "governed and 
ruled by the advice " of the Friars Minor appointed to advise them, and 
"by the will of the Friars Minor" corporately. It would seem from 
this that the Penitents were claiming the right to be under the jurisdic- 
tion of the Friars Minor, just as St. Clare was claiming this right for the 
Poor Ladies, and that this right was admitted at least in practice at the 
time the statute was made. 

In 1234 however the Penitents were placed under the jurisdiction of 
the bishops ' ' quatenus ad visitationem et correctionem eorum ". ^ Never- 
theless the Penitents still asserted their claim to be governed by the 
friars ; for St. Bonaventure refused to exercise jurisdiction over them 
or to be concerned with their government.' Yet even as late as 1287 it 
seems that the ministers of the friars were also at times ministers of the 
Penitents."' In fact it was not until 1290 that the question of govern- 
ment was finally settled. In 1289, Nicholas IV had again revised the Rule 
of the Penitents ' and ordained that they should choose ministers from 
their own body and that the visitor should be any approved religious, not 
necessarily a Friar Minor. But the Peniients vehemently protested, and 
in 1290 Nicholas ordained that the visitor must be a Friar Minor. ° Still, 
the ministers, both local and provincial, of the Penitents wore chosen from 

^ Les Begk'S, p. 178 sej. 

2 Vide bull " Ut cum majori" of 21 November, 1284. Sbaralea, Bull. i. 
p. 142. 

2 Cf. S. Bonaventurfe, Dctcrmbintionof, pars, ii Qutest. 16. Opera Omnia 
(Quaracchi) vm. p. -368. 

•' See the letter of John Boccamazzi written to the guardians of the Friars 
Minor at Strasburg and other places, quoted by Mandounet, op. cit. p. 180, 
note 2. 

5 Vide Sbaralea, BzM. i. pp. 94-7 ; Seraph. Lcgislat. Textus, pp. 77-96. 

« Vide bull " UnigenUus Dei Filius " of 8 August, 1290 (Sbaralea, ibid. pp. 


amongafc themselves : ^ and except for the visitation, were no longer under 
the effective government of the friars. It is not improbable therefore that 
Bernard de Besse in stating that the Penitents " in the beginning " 
were governed by a friar as minister, is referring to a period as late as 
1234 when the fraternity of the Penitents was "governed and ruled by 
the advice " of a Friar Minor and " by the will of the Friars Minor". 
The question of the government and development of the Third Order 
is however fuU of difficulties and yet awaits an exhaustive critical 

■■ Of. Gli Sto.tuti di una antica congregatione Fratwescana di Brescia, in 
Arch. Franc. Hist. an. i. faso. iv. pp. 540-68 ; also, Acta et Statuta Oeneralis 
Capituli Tertii Ordinis . . . Bononim celebratm an. 1289, in Arch. Franc. Hist. 
an. II. faso, i. pp. 63-71. 



"There are few 'lives ' in history so well documented as that of Saint 
Francis," wrote M. Paul Sabatier in 189i.' With still more truth might 
the same be said to-day. For dm in.,' the last seventeen years, a number 
of documents have been brought to light, some of them of the first im- 
portance. One document of primary value, of which all traces had been 
lost, has been discovered, namely the Tractatus de Miraculis, by Thomas of 
Celano ; other documents hidden away in unoatalogued libraries and un- 
known to students have been recovered, such as the Capestrano Rule of 
the Third Order, and the treaty of peace between Perugia and Assisi in 

Critical research has moreover shown the existence of early documents 
which remain only as parts of later compilations, as in the case of the 
Speculum Perfectionis ; it has forced students to revise their judgment 
and acknowledge a greater value in some received works, e.g. the Fioretti, 
aud the Liber Oonformitatuvi by Bartholomew of Pisa ; further it has 
given recognition to many hitherto neglected works such as Bartholi's 
Tractatus de Indulgentia S. M. de Portiuncula, the Sacrum Gommereium 
S. Francisei cum Domina Paupertate ; and finally it has resulted in the 
recovery of more authentic texts of works already published, as e.g. the 
Opuscula of St. Francis, the First and Second Legends of Thomas of 
Celauo, the Legend of St. Clare, the Anonymus Perusinus, Bcoleston's 
Chronicle " De Adventu FF. Minorurr, in Angliam ". 

Every year, almost, has seen the appearance of some new document 
or text : nor, it would seem, are the recoveries yet exhausted. The legend 
Quasi Stella attributed to John of Ceperano has yet to be found ; so too 
is it with the original rotuli of Brother Leo, and some letters of St. 
Francis. We have not yet got a definite text of the Vita Fratris Aegidii 

' Vie de St. Franqois, p. xxxiii. 


written by Brother Leo. Research is still eagyr for the original Fioretti, 
and for fuUer authentic informatien concerning St. Francis' pilgrimage 
in Palestine and his visit to Spain. 

Whilst it must be admitted that the discoveries already made have 
brought to Ught but iew facts and sayings which have not been in some 
way recognized in the hitherto accepted story of the saint, nevertheless 
we are now in a better position to obtain a true historical perception of 
the saint's character and deeds, and of the purpose and achievement of 
his life. Mere facts are but the alphabet of authentic history : it is in 
the right concatenation of facts that we get the authentic word of history. 
But for this true spelling several condition.^ are imperative; not only 
must we know the external circumstances of time and place and associa- 
tion into which the fact or saying is born : we need to know also the 
character and temperament, the mental atmosphere and moral outlook 
from which a man's actions and words are derived ; and this is generally 
the more difficult thing to attain to. 

Now the results of critical research into the sources of Franciscan his- 
tory have certainly enabled us to place the facts of St. Francis' life and his 
words, in a more authentic settiag in regard to the external circumstances 
to which they belong, as well as to judge in many instances with more or 
less assurance of matters which have given the critics food for debate. 
But more than that, with the recovery and authentication of many docu- 
ments, we are able more closely to follow the workings of the saint's 
mind and of the minds of his associates. The Speculum Perfectionis which 
is largely derived from the saint's own companions, brings one into the 
very atmosphere which surrounded the saint's later years ; whilst the 
larger assurance with which we can now accept the Fioretti and other 
later compilations substantially increases our power of steady vision. 

Curiously enough it seems to me the wider our knowledge of the 
sources of the Franciscan story becomes, the more accurate appears that 
traditional estimate of Francis, which has been kept sacred in the people's 
mind through all the ages since he lived. Biographers who have sought 
to explain the Francis of the early legends have too frequently succeeded 
only in distorting the proportions of his life and in writing around the 
bare facts of his story, a thesis which has but a .stranger's claim upon the 
tolerance of the spirit of the early legends. But popular tradition has 
been more tenacious of that spirit ; and now our fuller knowledge of the 
early legends is bringing us critically into the company of the popular 


tradition ; only with a more accurate appreciation of the values of the 

material out of which the traditional figure has been woven. 

* * 

The sources of our knowledge of St. Francis fall into four main 
divisions : — 

(1) The saint's writings ; 

(2) The documents left by the biographers of the saint and the 
chroniclers of the Order ; 

(3) The writings of others who did not professedly deal with the 
history of the Franciscan Order ; 

(4) Diplomatic and legal documents. 

The Writings of the Saint. 

These have been handed down in two sets of codices, representing, as 
some think, two distinct traditions, Conventual and Observant ; ' the " Con- 
ventual " codices are chiefly the Assisi MS. 388, and those contained in 
the Fae secundum exemplar compilations ; " typical of the " Observant " 
codices is the Ognissanti MS. The writings as contained in the first set 
were practically reproduced in the Chronicle of Mariano of Florence, 
whilst the CoHforniities of Bartholomew of Pisa gives them in the order 
of the second set. Wadding published in 1623 an edition of the writ- 
ings,^ in which he included not only dicta of the saint extracted from the 
legends, and which in form are cer!aiuly not authentic, but also other 
matter, such as the canticle. Amor di C'arifate, which both in substauce 
and form belongs to other authors. From Wadding's time until quite 
recent years the editors and translators of the " Works of St. Francis " 
merely reproduced Wadding. But in 1904 the Franciscans of Quaraochi 
published a new critical edition.* In the same year H. Boehmer pub- 
lished his critical study of the Opuscula,^ and W. Goetz republished with 

' Sabatiier: " Les Opuscules de Saint Francois " in OpusciiUs de Critique 
Hist. fasc. X. pp. 133-4. Cf. Pr. Paschal Robinson, O.P.M., Writings of St. 
Francis, p. xviii. = Vide infra, p. 516. 

" B. P. Francisci Ansisiatis Opuscula. Portions of the writings had already 
been printed in the Speculum Vital and the Firmamentum trimn Ordinum. 

^ Opusada Sancli Patris Francisci Assiaiensis (Quaracchi). 

' Analckten zur Oeschkhte des Franciscus von Assisi (Tubingen). 


Bome emendations his valuable examination of the writings ' which had 
already appeared in the Zeitschrift fur Kircheiigeschichte. lu I'JOO a criti- 
cal English translation of the Opuscula was published by Father Paschal 
Robinson, O.F.M.= 

As a result of critical research the following writings are more or less 
generally accepted as authentic : — 

1. The two Rules of the Friars Minor of 1221 and 1223. 

2. The Testament. 

3. The Forma Vleendi inserted in the Rule of St. Clare. 

4. The regulations De religiosa habitatione in ereino and De reoerenfAa 
Corporis Christi. 

5. The Admonitions — Verba Admonitionis. 

6. The chartula given to Brother Leo. 

7. Six letters. 

8. Some prayers. 

9. The Canticle of the Sun. 

The authenticity of the two Rides of the Friars Minor is uni|uustioned. 
Their history is set forth in the body of this book and need not detain us 
here. Neither is there any doubt in regard to the Forma Vivendi inserted 
in the Rule of the Poor Clares, since we have it on the authority of St. 
Glare herself that this Forma was written for her and the sisters by the 
saint. ' 

The Testament is well authenticated both by Thomas of Celano ^ and 
the bull " Quo elonc/ati " of Gregory IX,'' as well as by the Leg. 3 Soc.'' and 
St. Buna venture.'' 

^ Die Quellen sur Oeschichte des hi. Franciscus von Assisi (Gotha). 

' The Writings of St. Francis. (Philadelphia, U.S.A.) The translation is 
enriched with many original critical notes, and besides the Latin works con- 
tained in the Quaracchi edition, includes the " Canticle of the Sun ". Other 
critical studies oJ the writings are ; Les Opuscules de Saint Frani;ois, by P. 
Sabatier (a critical examination of the worlds of the Quaracchi editors, Boehmer 
and Goetz), and Les Opuscules de Saint Frani;ois dAssise, by Pere Ubald 
d'A]eu<;DU, O.M.Cap. 

'Gi.Beg. S. Glarce, cap. vi. ; cf. Fr. Paschal Robinson, Ths Rnle of St. 
Glare, p. 11. 

■■Gf. 1. Celano, 17. 'Vide Joergensen, Saint Frani;ois, Introd. p. xxxi, 
note 2. 

6 Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 68 seq. » Leg. 3 Soc. 29. ^ Leg. Maj. in. 2. 


The short document De, reli'jiosa habitatione in eremo ^ is certainly 
one of the most precious of Franciscan monuments. It sets forth the 
manner of life to be lived by the brethren in the small hermitages which 
were so numerous in the early days of the Order. The exact date of its 
composition is unknown ; but it could hardly have been written after 
1219, when the Order began to be organized on more conventional lines. 

The exhortation De reverentia Corporis Ghristi '^ was written in the 
last years of the saint's life. The Speculum Perfectionis speaks of a regula- 
tion St. Francis wished to insert in the Rule concerning the care the friars 
should have for the Blessed Sacrament, "and although," it adds, "these 
things are not written in the Rule because the Ministers did not think it 
well that the brethren should be obliged to these things by obedience, 
nevertheless he willed to leave the brethren a record of his intention both 
in his Testament and in his other writings ".'' We have in this exhortation 
one of the writiugs in which the saint thus expressed his will.^ It is a 
touching monument of St. Francis' devotion to the Sacrament of the Altar. 

The Admonitions — Verha Admonitionis ' — are accepted as authentic 
by all the critics." Joergeusen suggests that they were set forth by 
Francis at the Chapters of Pentecost, and were the first additions made 
to the primitive Rule. The suggestion is plausible, and might accovrnt for 
the special care and reverence mth which they are preserved. Yet there 
are difficulties in the way of accepting this opinion in regard to the whole 
series. The Admonition " Of Perfect and Imperfect Obedience" (No. 3), 
for example, bears evidence that it was written after Francis' return from 
the East, when the troubles in the Order had began.' The same might 

• Opuscula, p. 83 ; Boehmer, Analckten, p. 67. 

^ Opuscula, p. 22 ; Boehmer, loc. oit. p. 62. •' Cap. 65. 

•• Wadding includes this document amongst the Letters (Letter 13). Ha 
adds an opening salutation ; To my reverend masters in Christ, to alt clerics, 
etc. Sabatier (Speculum Perfect, p. clxvi) thinks it to be a postscript to the 
letter " To a certain Minister ". 

^ Opuscula S. F. Francisci (Quaracchi), pp. 3-19 ; The Writings of S. Fran- 
cis, translated by Pr. Paschal Robinson, O.F.M. pp. 3-19 ; Boehmer, Analekkn, 
pp. 40-8. 

' Goetz, Quellen siir Geschichte dcs hi. Frans von As.^isi, in Zeitsch.fiir 
Kirchengesaht. xxii. p. 5.51 ; Joergeusen, loc. cit. p. 324 ; Van Ortroy, Anal. 
Boll. xxiv. fasc. ni. p. 411. 

' Vide supra, p. 376. 


be said of the fifth, sixth, and seventh Admonitions. ' But whatever 
were the circumstances of their origin, these words of admonition were 
undoubtedly frequently on the lips of Francis." They were his " Sermon 
on the Mount". 

Of seventeen letters attributed to the saint by Wadding, only six are 
admitted as indubitably authentic by the Quaracchi editors : namely, the 
letters "To all the Faithful," "To all the Brethren," "To a certain 
Minister," "To the Rulers of Peoples," "To all Custodes," and "To 
Brother Leo".' They also admit the substantial authenticity of the 
w6ll-kno^vIl letter to St. Anthony, but are doubtful as to its form.^ 
Boehmer accepts only five of the Quaracchi letters as beyond r>ny 
doubt, and puts the letter " To the Rulers," as well as that to St. Anthony 
amongst the "doubtful writings"." Goetz, on the other hand, accepts 
both letters, s but holds the letter "To all Custodes" as doubtful. All 
three letters are certainly conformable to the style of thought and speech 
manifested in other authentic writings of the saint ; and bear the mark 
of his personahty. Francis scenes to have been no niggard in the matter 
of writing letters : the letters we now have are but a few of those he is 
known to have written.' 

The prayers of St. Francis generally received as authentic are the 
Praises, the Salutations of the Virtues and of the Blessed Virgin, the 

'I am quoting the numbers given in the Quaracchi edition of tha 

2 St. Bouaveuture quoting from Admonition 20, says ; "This word he had 
continually in his mouth " {Leg. Maj. vi. 1). Again he prefaces a saying of 
St. Francis similar to Admonition 28, thus ; " He would often say to his com- 
panions such words as these " (Leg. Maj. x. i). In Admonition 5 we have 
another version of the Parable of Perfect Joy related in the I'iorettii, cap. 
VIII. Similar parallels are e.g. Admon. 4 = Begula i. cap. vi. ; Admon. b = 
Spec, Perfect, cap, 4. Begula i. cap. xvii. ; Admon. 26 = Testament (con- 
cerning the honour due to priests) ; I Celano, 62. 

3 Opuscula, pp. 87-116. ■■ Opuscula, p. 179. 

^ AnaleMen, pp. 70-1. '^ Quellen, loc. oit. p. 535, and pp. 528-64. 

'' " Plura scripta tradidit nobis," says St. Clare in her Testament. 
Eccleston speaks of a letter written to the friars in France {De Adventu 
ed. Little, p. 40), and of another written to the friars at Bologna (ibid.). 
Letters to Cardinal Ugolino are mentioned in I Celano, 82, and in the Leg. 3 
Soc. 67. 



Praises of God, and the Oilico of the PasKion. The Quaracchi editors also 
include a prayer to obtain Divine Love. The Praises — Lcmdes—aie a 
paraphrase of the Our Fathor in the mediaeval style,i together with 
an extended doxology. This prayer is evidently referred to in the 
Speculum Perfectionis,- from whieh it would seem that the Praises were 
frequently recited by St. Francis and the brethren. It is not unlikely 
that it was this prayer which the saint ordered the brethren in France to 

The " Salutation of the Ble.ssed Virgin" and the "Salutation of the 
Virtues" form one prayer of praise in some of the ancient MSS ; though 
in others they are disjoined.^ Thomas of Celano textually quotes the 
" Salutation of the Virtues "." If we may take it, as the rubric in certain 
codices describe it, namely as a praise "of the virtues with which the 
Blessed N'irgin was adorned and which should adi.rn the holy soul," the 
salutation j.s another instance of St. Francis' habit of looking for a con- 
crete embodiment of his ideals. For him the merely abstract had no 
attraction except as it was realized in some living reality to which he 
could give his heart. The Praises of God is the prayer of praise written 
by the saint on Mount Alvernia after he had received the stigmata." 

An Office of the Passion is mentione 1 in tlie Legend of St. Clare, as 
having been composed by St. Francis ; and the Quaracchi editors 
consider that the office given in several ancient MSS. is that referred 
to. Boehmer altogether omits it from his collection. Yet it bears 
a striking similarity of construction to the Laudes Dei, the "Praises of 
God". The psalms, so styled, are a string of passages gathered from 
various psalms and other parts of Scriptu e, illustrative of a smgle idea 
or motive. For example : the ordiu iry "psalm " for prime is a song of in God's mercy ; the Easter matins " psalm" is a canticle of joy in 
the mystery of the Resurrection. The Christmas vespers " psalm " is 

'Compare the paraphrases of the Kyric, in mediaeval liturgy. 

-Cap. 82. Of. Sabatier, Opuscules, fasc. x. p. 137. Boehmer, however, 
classes the paraphrase of the Our Father amongst the " doubtful " writinos. 

^ Eccleston, loo, cit. 

^Of. Boehmer, AnaleUcn, pp. vi and xxviii ; Sabatier, Opuscules de Saint 
Francois, in Opuscules de Ciiticiue Hist. fasc. s. p. 131 ; Pr. Paschal Kobinson. 
Writings of St. Francis, pp. xx and xxi. 

s II Celano. 189. « Vide infra, p. 411. 


however a gem of the purest Franciscan water, and hardly anyone l)ut 
Francis could have written it.' 

All the above-meuLioued writings are in LaLin, but a number of poems 
in the Italian tungue have been attributed to tlie saint. Of these, how- 
ever, only one is admitted as authentic, the " Canticle of the Sun ".'•' The 
poems "Amor di caritate " included in the works of St. Francis by Wad- 
ding are of later origin, perhaps by Jacopone da Todi. None of the saint's 
songs lu the French tongue have come down to us. ^ 

The authentic writings of the saint which have come down to us there- 
fore do not make a bulky volume ; yet they are sufficient to give us a true 
insight into the character of his mind and heart. They reveal to us a 
poet rather than a pliilosoph jr, an apostle rather than a statesman. They 
utter the intuitive knowledge of the heart and the heart's desire ; they are 
never the evenly-balanced productions of the logical thinker. Yet they give 
in brief, compendious fashion, a very complete teaching of the spiritual life 
vs we find it set forth in lives of the first Franciscans recorded in the 
early legends. And for this reason the writings taken in connexion with 
the legends, are a source of primary importance for our knowledge of the 
first Franciscan days. 


The Early Legends ajid Chrokicles of the Okder. 
These documents may be divided into four main divisions : — 

1. Tiie official biograpliies ; 

2. The writings of the saint's companions ; 

3. The later compilations ; 

4. The chronicles dealing professedly with the history of the Order 
rather than with the life of the saint. 

1. The Official Biogra/jlLies. 
When in 1228 Gregory IX canonized St. Francis, ho commanded 

' Vide Opusciila, p. HI ; Fr. Paschal Robinson, loc. cit. p. 175. Cf Salja- 
tier, Les Opuscules, 159-60. 

^ The Quaraochi Opuscula does not include tihia canticle, the editors 
strangely enough confining their edition to the Latin works. 

'^"Alfaet clara voce laudes gallice cantans," Leg, 3 Soo. 33. "Gallicc 
cantabat de Domino," II Celano, 127. 



Uiother Thomas of Oelano to write the Life of the Saint.' Brother 
Thomas undertook the work and produced his Legenda Prima, sometimes 
styled Legenda Gregoriana in compliment to the Pontiff who ordered it 
to be written. It was evidently finished before 25 May, 1230, since it 
contains no reference to the translation of the body of St. Francis.^ 

The author tells us in the prologue that he has sought to narrate 
with dovutio.i and truth — " veritate semper prtevia et magistra " — what 
lie hunself had heard from the lips of St. Francis, or what he had heard 
from truthful and approved witnesses. He divides his Ijook into three 
parts, " lest the difference of times might bring confusion into the o: der 
of the incidents and so lead to doubt of their truth ". The first part is 
above all devoted to the sincerity of the saint's conversion and life, to his 
holy conduct and godly examples, together with a few miracles wrought 
by him during his lifetime. The second part concerns the last two years 
of the saint's life and his death. The third part relates certain selected 
miracles worked after death. Reference is also made to the honovu- shown 
to Francis by Pope Gregory in inscribing his name in the roll of the saints. 
The miracles contained in the third part, it should be noted, are those 
which are " read out and aanouuced to the people in the presence of the 
Pope," '■' evidently the miracles attested in the acts of canonization. We 
must not, however, be misled by Brother Thomas' anxiety not to confuse 
the order of events. The events contained in the first part happened 
before the last two years of the saint's life : and the more prominent 
events in this part are placed undoubtedly in chronological order. But 
we must not look for the same careful order in the less prominent events, 

' The Legenda Prima was first published by the BoUandists, Acta SS. die 
4 Octobris. The Legenda Prima and Legenda Secimda were published by 
Rinaldi in 1806 ; in 1880 Amoni republished Rinaldi's edition. A definite 
edition of both legends was published by P. Edouard d'Alenijon in 1906 
(Rome, Descl^e). This last edition was preceded in 1901 by Dr. Rosedale's 
unfortunate edition in which a great deal of labour seems to have been wasted 
through undue hurry. 

- The Paris Codex says the Legenda Prima was presented to the Pope at 
Perugia on 25 February, 1229. (Of. Ed. d'Aleucjon, op. cit. p. xxvi). Tile- 
mann (Speculum Perfectionis und Leg. Trium Sociorum) throws doubt upon 
this ascription. On 21 February, 1229, Gregory IX published a letter 
concerning the saint's canonization. (Sbaralea, Bull. i. p. 49.) 

" Vide Inoipit to pars iii. 


which are often grouped together to set forth some trait in the saint's 

It has been said of the Legenda Prima that it was a manifesto in favour 
of Elias as against the party in tlie Franciscan Order which held by the 
primitive traditions. ^ In proof of this accusation, attention is drawn to 
the fact that Brother Tliomas never once mentions by name the faithful 
companions of the saint, Leo, Ruffino, Angelo, etc., whereas he goes out 
of his way to set forth the claims of Elias to the respect of the Order, 
with the purpose, it is said, of securing his election to the office of 
General.^ The argument proves too much — more, that is to say, than we 
are warranted in concluding from the writings of Celano and our knowledge 
of him. Thomas was undoubtedly something of a courtier, so far at 
least as it came n.aturally to him to do homage to those whom he could put 
on pedestals. But it was an honest courtiership, not inconsistent with 
truth and sincerity. I should say that in his earlier years Thomas was 
apt to form his opinion of men by the place they held in the opinion of 
the world around him. He writes of St. Clare and her religious sisters ^ 
with a fervent admiration which must have put their humility to the 
when they read his book : but then all Italy was in open admiration of 
their wonderful virtue. His naive adulation of Gregory IX is touching 
in its manifest sincerity : he is praising the protector of the Order, the 
friend of St. Francis and the brethren, as well as the Pope."' In similar 
fashion and with simOar motive he speaks openly of Klias. Thomas of 
Celano is evidently impressed by the fact that Elias is the Vicar-General 
of the Order : and his reverence for the Vicar-General was in all proba- 
bility heightened by the commanding position Elias held in the eyes of 
the Papal Court and, in fact, of all who came in contact with him. Few 
people escaped the fascination of that strange personality ; * he was a man 

' Sabatier, Vie de S. Francois, p. liv. Of. Spec. Perfect, xovni-cix. 

'' Elias is mentioned by name eight times in the course of the legend. It 
must be said that M. Sabatier does not impute bad faith and conscious con- 
spiracy to Thomas of Celano but regards him rather as a blind complaisant 
tool in the hands of Elias. 

8 1 Celano, 18-20. ^Cf. I Celano, 20, 74, 99-101, 121-2. 

^ e.g. Several years later St. Clare wrote to Agnes of Prague : " I urge you 
to follow the counsels of our most reverend Father, Brother Elias, Minister- 
General of the whole Order, and put them before all other counsels given jou 
to follow, and value them as more precious than any other gift " (Epist. ii. 
vide Acta SB., Martii, vol. i. p. 505). 


to be reckoned with, whatever office he held. F.ut if Brother Thomas 
was outspoken in his praise of those in high position, he was not less 
generous to those who were more lowly in the world's eyes. In all his 
references to Elias he gives no such encomium of his personal virtue apart 
from his devotion to St. Francis, as he does of that of the four faithful 
companions of the saint — Angelo, Rnffino, Leo, andMasseo. ' He does 
not indeed mention them by name, as he doubtless would have done had 
they been Vicars-Oeneral or men in authority, but nobody who knew 
them could mistake whom he was describing ; certainly not Elias himself. 
Their virtues are announced in much the same fervent style as are those 
of St. Clare and her sisters. 

It is, however, quite evident that Thomas of Celano, when he wrote 
his Legenda Prima, was of opinion that Elias had been a faithful friend to St. 
Francis and had fulfilled the office of Vicar-General with true merit : nor 
is it unlikely that he went out of his way to praise Elias because of the 
opposition which he knew there was against him on the part of many of 
the friars. But Thomas with his generous disposition to distribute praise 
wherever he considered praise was due, would in such case only deem that 
he was accepting "the leadership and governance of truth " — "verilate 
snnpe,r praevia et magistra " : and this he would hold was the more im- 
perative in regard to a man of such outstanding genius. It does not prove 
that he was in any narrow sense of the word a partisan of Elias as against 
his opponents. It is likely too that in writing the Legenda Prima he 
was brought into immediate relations with Elias in the matter of the 
saint's canonization and glorification. To Elias was committed the work 
of building the saints' shrine ; to Thomas, the work of setting forth the 
saint's claim to canonization — for that was what the Legenda Prima was 
designed to be by Gregory IX. From Elias he would naturally seek 
information regarding the saint's life. Is it surprising that under the 
circumstances Elias figures prominently in the narrative ? 

Another fault found with the Legenda Prima is that it avoids aU refer- 
ence to the difficulties which arose between St. Francis and some of the 
friars and that it does not set forth the intentions of the saint regarding 
poverty and the life of the Order, such as we find in the Legenda Sectinda 
and other documents. But the Legenda Prima was written not for the 
brethren of the Order but for the Catholic world : its purpose was to draw 
the veneration of Catholics in general towards the newly canonized founder 
1 1 Celano, 102. 


of the Order. The scope of the work was thu.s narrowed to one of genera] 
edification, and any reference to the internal poHtics of the Order would 
have been considered out of place. The Legenda Secunda was written by 
command of the General of the Order, and was designed for the benefit 
of the friars ; but the Legenda Prima was written by order of the Pope 
to announce the claim of St. Francis upon the devotion of the Catholic 
world at large. Brother Thomas did not profess to give a full account of 
the saint's life : twice he warns his readers that his story is incomplete.' 
We have, therefore, no reason to doubt the sincerity and truthfulness 
of the Legenda Prima ; although to complete the authentic history of the 
saint we must have recourse to other documents. It is in fact the founda- 
tion upon which our critical knowledge of St. Francis must be built up.- 

* * 

Celano's Legenda Secunda at once brings us into difficulties. It was 
written by command of the Minister-General Crescentius and was finished 
before 1247, when Crescentius ceased to be General. The command came 
about in this way. At the General Chapter of 1244 it was decreed that 
the brethren who had any personal knowledge of St. Francis should com- 
mit their recollections to writing and so forward them to the Minister- 
General. Chief amongst those who obeyed the decree were the three 
companions of the saint, Leo, Angelo, and Buflino : but others also sent 
in their writings. Having thus collected material, Crescentius committed 
to Thomas of Celano the task of wi-iting a second legend. ' 

The new legend was written in two books. The book is a record 
of facts concerning the conversion of St. Francis which had not come to 
the knowledge of the author when he wrote the Legenda Prima, together 
with a few incidents of the saint's later life. In the second book the 
author purposes to set forth the desire and intention of the holy founder 
in regard both to himself and the bretlu^en.'' 

Now several things are to be noted in regard to this legend, which how- 

1 1 Gelano, Prohgus, 88. 

2 Of. Goetz, loc. cit. p. 166 ; Joergensen, op. cit. p. xxxiv ; Thode, op. cit. 
p. 277. 

3 Vide II Celano, Prologus ; cf. Salimbene, loc, cit. p. 176. Bernard a 
Bessa, Galalogus Qen. Minist. no. 5 ; Ghron. Jordani a Jano in AwU. Franc. 
I. p. 8 ; Ghron. xxiv. Gen. in Anal. Franc, in. p. 261. 

* C£. II Gelano, Prologus, 2. 


ever we shall consider more fully later on when dealing with the writings of 
the saint's companions. There is in the first place an obvious difference of 
style in the composition of the two books of the legend. The first book 
is written in the stylo of a biography, just as the Legenda Prima was 
written : whilst the second book is a collection of stories grouped together 
to illustrate different virtues or doctrines of the saint. 

Again, whereas in the Legenda Prima the author refers to himself as 
solely responsible for his work, in the Legenda Secunda he associates 
himself with others,' evidently with those whose writings furnished him 
with the materials out of which his legend is composed : but he speaks 
of them as co-authors with himself ; nay, in regard to the second book, 
they take the place of the principal authors, whilst Celano himself ia 
hardly more than the scribe or editor. " 

Yet another trait to be remarked is that the Legenda Secunda, espe- 
cially in the second book, bears traces of the difficulties through which 
the Order had passed. Time and again, the author presses home the 
example of the saint and his expressed will, to rebuke those friars who 
had left the straight road of poverty and simplicity. And in reference to 
this it must be recalled that Crescentius, the Minister-General, to whom 
the legend is dedicated, did not favour the party of the strict observance 
as did his successor, John of Parma ; he was rather of the " legal " party 
as was St. Bonaventure — the " moderate " party as some might call 
them.' The publication of the second book of the Legenda Secunda is to 

' e.g. I Celano, Prolorjus, = aiidivi, potui, ejus nicrear esse discipultis, 
etc. ; II Ga\&no, Prologus, = concurrimits, percutimur, sumeremus,oramus ergo, 

^ Vide Oratio sociorum sancti with which the second book of II Celano 

2 Crescentius was in fact a determined opponent of the extreme zelators. 
Of. Anal. Franc, in. p. 2G3. On the other hand, he seems to have favoured 
John of Parma whom he sent as his representative to the Council of Lyons 
in 1245. Cf. Salimbene, loo. cit. p. 176. Prom this it would seem that Cre- 
scentius was not the partisan that Sabatier represents him to be. In his 
Introduction to the Speculum Perfvctionis, Sabatier has been led by a mis- 
reading of the Chronicle of the XXIV Qenerals to a severe condemnation of 
Crescentius on the ground that he suppressed the second book of the Legenda 
Secunda or forbade it to be written. At the time of the publication of 
the Speculum Perfectionis, Celano's Tractatus cle Miraculis had not been 


be remembered in estimating the views and attitude of the various parties 
in the (^rder concerning the primitive observance. And that is all wo 
need say at this point about this legend, except to call attention to what 
Celano says in his prologue concerning the miracles of the saint. " Uer- 
t<ain miracles are inserted," he says, " as the opportunity of placing them 
occurred." The miracles are evidently not a first consideration in this 
legend. One remembers how Brother Thomas excuses himself in the 
Legenda Prima for not relating more miracles : " we have determined to 
set forth rather the excellence of his life and the upright manner of his 
conduct, since miracles do not make sanctity but only manifest it ".' 

The same purpose animates him in the Legenda Secunda. But others 
of the friars were more anxious to preserve these proofs of the sanctity 
of their holy founder : hence John of Parm;i, on assuming the office of 
General in succession to Crescentius, repeatedly urged Thomas of Celano 
to complete his legends by a work on the saint's miracles. So the 
trusted biographer again took up his pen and wrote the Tracfatus de 
Miraculis. The exact date when this treatise was written is unknown, 
but it was completed whilst John of Parma was General, that is before 
his resignation in 1247.^ Apart from the miracles, the treatise records 
several incidents in the saint's life, not given in the legends ; notably the 
visit of the Lady Giacoma di Settisoli to Francis on his deathbed.'* 

The publication of the Legenda Secunda and of the writings of the 
companions of the saint, undoubtedly furnished the party of the strict 

discovered. It is now certain that it was this Tractatus which is spoken of as 
the " second part" of the Legetida Secunda by the author of the Ghron. xxiv. 
Gen. {Anal. Franc, ni. p. 276). Vide infra. 

1 1 Celano, 70. 

^Cf. Chron. xxiv. Gen. in Aiial. Franc, in. p. 276. Perhaps if we knew 
the date of the Chapter of Genoa held under John of Parma — to which 
Eccleston makes reference — we should be able to form a more exact con- 
clusion. At that chapter, Eccleston tells us, John of Parma ordered Brother 
Bonizzo, one of the saint's companions, to relate before the brethren the truth 
of the stigmata, which many people were calling in question {De Adventu, 
ed. Little, p. 93). It is noteworthy that the Tractatus de Miraculis devotes a 
long chapter to the miracle of the stigmata, written with an evident purpose 
of convincing the unbelievers (cf. ibid- 5, " Nulli sit ambiguitati locus,'' etc.). 

3 Concerning the authenticity of the Tractatus cf. Van Or:txoy,Anal. Boll. 
xvm. pp. 81-93. 


observance iu the Order with a weapon they would not be slow to use. 
Here, they would .say, we have evidence of the intentions and mind of 
St. Francis. Under John of Parma this party flourished, but their 
opponents were not sileuced : partisan spirit ran high on both sides. 
St. Bonaventure, on succeeding John of Parma, sought to bring about a 
pacification of the opposing elements. Whatever criticism one may pass 
upon the policy with which he endeavoured to compass this pm'pose, the 
purpose itself can only be judged necessary and godly. In pursuance of 
this policy, then, he undertook, at the instance of the General Chapter, 
held at Narbonne in 1260, to write a new biography of St. Francis which 
the brethren might read without incitement to controversy. To fit him- 
eelf for this work Bonaventure made new inquiries amongst the brethren 
yet living, who had known the saint : but it shows the completeness with 
which Thomas of Celano had accomplished his task as biographer, that as 
a result of this inquiry, the new biography adds but few details not 
recorded in Celano's work. On the other hand, it omits much that 
Celano has given us. 

As a book of devotion and a stimulus to religious fervour there are 
few biographies to compete with St. Bonaventure's Legend of St. Francis : ' 
it is in truth the life of a saint written by a saint. Historically it leaves 
much to be desired. The Legenda Major — as this legend is generaDy 
styled — is not primarily a history but a book of edification. Such in- 
cidents as it relates are undoubtedly authentic. For the most part St. 
Bonaventure seems to have availed himself of the works of Thomas of 
Celano, notwithstanding his own independent inquiries.^ The fault of 
the book, from the historian's point of view, is in its omissions. Con- 
sequently the figure of St. Francis, impressed upon our mental retina 
after reading the Legcnda Major, falls short in many ways of the im- 
pression we receive from the work of Celano. Bonaventure's St. Francis 
is emphatically a cloistered monk, notwithstanding his missionary ex- 
cursions ; Celano's St. Francis embraces the whole world in his vast 
spiritual freedom and sympathy. Having completed his Legenda Major, 

1 A definitive edition of this legend was published by the Quaracchi editors 
in the Opera Omnia of St. Bonaventure, tom. viii. It has also been published 
separately together with the Legenda Minor {vide infra) under the title ; 
Scraphici Doctoris S. Boiiaventune : LegciidcB dace de vita S. Francisci 
(Quaracchi, 1S98). 

' CI. Van Ortroy, Anal. Boll. xvni. pp. 95-7. 


St. Bonaventure wrote his Lerienda Minor for the use of the friars in 
choir. Several liturgical legends already existed, compiled chiefly from 
the Legenda Prima of Celano.' 

We come bow to an important event in the history of Franciscan 

In 1266 the General Chapter held at Paris decreed that all the earlier 
legends should be proscribed and as far as possible destroyed, and that 
St. Bonaventure's legend alone should in future be read. Not all the 
copies of the earlier legends, however, were desti-oyed ; in spite of the 
capitular decree some few copies remained in the hands of those who 
championed the more primitive observance : but for the most part they 
ceased to exist : "it took just 632 years to recover all the scattered frag- 
ments of Celauo's legends ".'' 

' e.g. The legend published by Ed. d'Alencjou in his edition of Celano's 
legends (pp. 435-45). 

Other legends compiled chiefly from the Legenda Prima of Celano are : 

(1) The legend of Julian of Speyer, edited by Van Ortroy in Analecta 
BoUardiana, xxi. pp. 148-202. Of. Acta SS. Ootob, ii. p. 548 seq. ; Anal. Boll. 
XIX. p. 821 seq. 

(2) The legend Quasi stella, of which, however, we have only a choir 
version, the original being lost. Cf. Ed. d'Alen(;on, in 4«ai. Ord. F.M. Cap. 
vol. XIV. pp. 370-3. 

(3) Vita Brevis, atictore Bartholommo Tridentino, in Anal. Ord. F.M. Cap. 
vol. xiii. pp. 243-50. 

(4) Vita Metrica, written about 1230 : sometimes, but erroneously, attributed 
to John of Kent. It was edited from the MSS. in the municipal library of 
Assisi by A. Cristofaui : II pin antizo pocma delta vita di S. Francesco (Prato, 

^ Fr. Paschal Robinson, O.P.M., A Slwrt Introduction to Franciscan 
Literature, pp. 10-11. [I take this opportunity of recommending this excellent 
booklet to those who want a brief but sure indication of Franciscan sources.] 
The decree was pubUsbed by Einaldi in his edition of Celano's legends 
(p. 11.) See also Erble, Archiv, p. 39; English Historical Review, xiii. pp. 
704-8. Van Ortroy discovered another copy in the Vatican library. Of. 
Anal. Boll, xviii. p. 174. The learned Jesuit critic does not believe in the 
"draconian severity" of the decree and thinks it referred merely to the litur- 
gical legends. But in the first place the wording of the decree precludes 
this limitation, since it orders that any copies found outside the Order shall 
if possible be destroyed. Surely the purpose of the decree must have been 


So ends the history of the early legends written by authority ; and 
yet it is not the end, as we shall see. 

But before passing on to the next .set of documents, we may mention 
here the Legenda Ska. Glarce.^ It is now generally attributed to Thomas 
of Celano ' and was probably written, like Celano's Legenda Prima, as an 
official biography comsequent upon the saint's canonization.' 
2. TJie Writings of the Saint's Gompanians. 

We have already seen how in response to the command of the 
General Chapter of 1244, amongst others the three companions of St. 
Francis, Leo, Angelo, and Ruffino sent their recollections in writing to 
the Miui.'iter-General Crescentius. These writings of the three compan- 
ions play an important part in the history of Franciscan documents and 
liave been and still are the subject of much controversy. 

That the saint's companions did actually send writings to the Minis- 
ter-General is undoubted. Apart from the prefatory letter to the tradi- 
tional " Legend by the Three Companions," we have the testimony of the 
Legenda Secunda. The dispute is as to the character of the writings and 
their subsequent history. M. Sabatier and others hold that these docu- 

moro serious than merely substituting one office by another. G£. Lemmens, 
Doeunienta antiqua, ii. p. 11. Moreover, the fact remains that for centuries 
the earlier legends were practically lost sight of. Of. also the Hist. VII Tri- 
bulaiiomim (Eihle, Archiv, ii. p. 265) : " qum scripte erant in legenda prima, 
novo cdita a fratie Bonaventura, deleta et deslructa sunt ipso jubente". It 
seems, however, that the Legenda Prima of Celano, and its dependert 
biographies, were not rigorously included in this decree, since Bernard of 
Besse mentions them in his Liber de Laudibus. Perhaps this was owing to 
the fact that the Legenda Prima was written by Papal authority. 

• It was first published in 1573 by Surius in De probatis SS. viiis, torn. 
IV. Another edition was given by the Bollandists, Acta SS., sub die 12 
Augusti. A definitive edition has lately been published by Prof. Pennacclii, 
based on the Assisi MS. 338. An English translation from the same MS. was 
made by Pr. Paschal Robiuson, O.P.M., in 1910, The Life of St. Clare. 
Of. Mrs. Balfour, The Life and Legend of the Lady St. Glare (London, 
Longmans, 1910). 

'■'Of. Fr. Paschal Robinson, loc. oit. p. xxii.-xxviii. ; Ed. d'Alenijon, S. 
Francisci Assis. p xlvi. ; Sabatier, Spec. Perfect, p. Ixxv ; Van Ortroy, in 
Anal. Boll xxii. p. 360. 

^Cf. Fr. Paschal Robinson, loc. cit. p. xxix. 


meuts aro nothing else than the traditional "Legend of the Three Com- 
panions ". Others again deny this and assert that the documents must be 
sought elsewhere, for instance in Celano's Legenda Secunda or in the 
Speculum PerfecUonis. Tlie more probable opinion, it seems to me, is 
that the writings of the three companions — so far as they exist at all in 
authentic form — are to be found in the Speculum PerfecUonis, and in less 
authentic form in the second book of the Legenda Secunda. At the same 
time we cannot say that eitlier of these documents contains all that the 
three companions sent to Crescentius. The traditional " Legend of the 
Three Companions," on the other hand, is not the work of the com- 
panions, but was ^vritten by an unknown author either before or shortly 
after the publication of Celano's Legenda Secunda. It may be based 
partly on the writings of the companions, but this is not in any way 

At the outset it is to be noticed that the tradilional " Legend of the 
Thi'ee Companions," Legenda 3 Soc. as we shall henceforth write it, cor- 
responds very closely with the first book of the Legenda Secunda. It is 
inconceivable that this correspondence is accidental : and for this reason 
amongst others, it seems to me that the Legenda 3 Soc. in the form it has 
come down to us, is the author's complete work, excepting only the pro- 
logue or preface,' and the additional chapter on the Porziuncola indulgence 
which is quite evidently a later addition. At the same time we may note 
the close correspondence between the Speculum PerfecUonis and the second 
hook of the Legenda Secunda. 

' Concerning the question o£ the integrity of the legend, of. : For the inte- 
grity : Faloci-Pulignani, in Miscellanea Fraiiciscana, torn. vii. p. 81 seq. ; S. 
Miuoochi, La Legenda trium Sec. : Nouvi studi. Against the integrity. PP. 
Maroellino de Civezza et Teo£lo Domenichelli : La Leggenda di San Francesco 
scrilta de tre suoi conipagni; Saba tier, De VauthenticiU de la Ugende de S 
Frani;ois, dite des Trois compognons ; Description du Speculum Vifce iu Opusculei 
de Critique Hist. i. fasc. 6 ; Van Ortroy, La Ugende de S. Francois, in Anal. 
Boll. XIX, p. 119 seq. ; Ed. d'AlenQon, La Ligende de S. Framjois dite Ligende 
des trois Compagnons ; TUemann, Speculum PerfecUonis und Legenda Trium 
Sociorum. I may call attention here to the unconvincing reconstruction of the 
legend by P. Marcellino da Civezza and P. Teofilo Domenichelli (op. oit.). To 
me it seems that the Italian version upon which the reconstruction is built 
up, is merely an attempt to complete the traditional legend 1 y some translator 
desirous of producing a full biography from ancient sources. 


Arc we then to conclude that the Legenda 3 Soc. and the Spec. Perfect. 
are compiled mainly from the Legenda Secunda ? Or may it be that all 
three works are compiled from another identical source, namely the 
writings sent by the three companions and others to the Minister-General 
Crescentius ? No other alternative is admissible in view of the self- 
revelation of the Legenda Secunda as to its own authorship. We know 
of a certain ity that this legend is based upon these writings. 

Now the first thing to consider in the Legenda 3 Soc. is the prefatory 
letter which purports to be written by the three companions, Leo, Angelo, 
and Ruffino. It tells us that in obedience to the decree of the last Chapter 
[i.e. of 1244] they have thought it well to acquaint the Minister-General 
of some of the deeds of St. Francis of which they had personal know- 
ledge, or which they had learned from other holy friars. The letter ia 
dated : Greccio, 15 August, 1246. The curious thing about this letter is 
tlie following passage: " per modum legendm non scribimus cum dudum 
de vita sua [S. Franoisci] et miraculis quae per eum Dominus operatus est, 
sint confectce legend<e.^ Sed velut de ameno prato quosdam flores arbitrio 
nostra pulchriores excerpimus, continuatam historiam non sequentes, sed 
iniilta seriose relinquentes, quce in 2}i'<:cdictis legendis sunt posita tarn 
veridico quain luculento sermone." 

But the Legenda 3 Soc, contrariwise, is certainly written in the 
mauuer of a legend ; and the first sixteen cliapters, at any rate, are a 
"continuous history". Consequently it is difiicult to believe that the 
prefatory letter and the body of the legend are one original work. In 
nearly all the ancient MSS., however, the Legenda 3 Soc. is followed by 
chapters from the Speculum Perfectionis ; and if, as I believe, this com- 
pilation contains many of the original writings of the companions, it is 
easy to account for the presence of the letter at the beginning of the MSS. 

We have spoken of the close correspondence between this legend and 
the first book of the Legenda Secunda ; but there are notable differences 
both in style and matter. The writer of the Legenda 3 Soc. was not a 
literary stylist as was Thomas of Celano. He writes freely and with ima- 
gin.ition, but his words and phrases are homely, without any marks 
of the scholar. Aa to the matter, the Legenda 3 Soc. includes incidents 

' I.e. the Legenda Prima aud the legend oi Julian of Speyer. The wording 
of the letter show.s an acquaintance with the Legenda Prima, e.g. the phrase 
feritate prcevia (cf. I Celano, Prologus) : '■ Miracida ^ucE sanctitatem non 
vacitmt sed ostendunt (cf. I Celano, 70). 


which fiud no place in any of Tlionias o£ Colano's writings, e.g. the first 
missionary journey of St. Francis and Brother Giles in the Marches of 
Ancona ; the intervention and death of Cardinal John of St. Paul ; the 
adventure of Brother Bernard at Florence ; the sending of the friars to 
Germany and Hungary. Even in relating the same incidents as Celano, 
the Legenda 3 Soc. frequently adds intimate details ; e.g. both legends 
relate the conversation between St. Francis and Bernard da Quintavalle, 
which preceded the latter's " conversion " ; but it is the Legenda 3 Soc. 
which tells us tliat Bernard approached Francis secretly and invited him 
to spend a night in his house. So^ too, both legends give the parable of 
the fisherman, but the Legenda 3 Soc. alone mentions that it was spoken 
to Brother Giles. Such instances might be multiplied. 

Hence it is evident that even if the author of the Legenda 3 Soc. made 
use of the Legenda Secunda, he nevertheless had before his eyes other 
documents. As to what these documents were, three suppositions are 
possible : they may have been the original documents of the witnesses, 
including the three companions, who sent their written attestations to 
the General Crescentius ; or they may have been other documents vrritteij 
from time to time by those who wished to preserve evidences of St. 
Francis' life, similar to those collected about 1270 concerning the Por- 
ziuncola indulgence {vide supra, pp. 407 seg.) ; or they may have been 
documents of a later period and of less authentic character. 

This third supposition, however, seems the least tenable. For if the 
Legtnda 3 Soc. were, as Van Ortroy and others assert, a later legend of the 
fourteenth century, how is it that it contains no reference to the Por- 
ziuncola indulgence ? ' The omission of any such reference indicates to 
my mind ihat the Legenda 3 Soc. was not written after the indulgence 
had become widely published. 

As I have said, the close correspondence of this legend with the first 
book of the Legenda Secunda proves either that Celano deliberately took 
the Legenda 3 Soc. as his model, or that the author of the Legenda 3 Sue. 
deliberately ,-haped his legend upon the first book of the Legenda Secunda. 
I confess that I cannot determine to my own satisfaction which of these 
alternatives is the more probable. If we had any definite indication as to 
the actual witnesses, other than the three companions, who sent in their 
writings to the General Crescentius, we might be able to solve, with more 

' As before mentioned the chapter on the indulgence is evidently a later 


or loss certainty, this troublesome problem. As it Ls, I can but note the 
following conclusions : — 

1. On the suppo^iition that the author of the Legenda 3 Soo. worked 
over the writings of Gelano, he did so not as a mere revisionist but with 
the intention of writing a new legend, embracing details which Celano had 
omitted ; and for this purpose he used other documents, including the 
legends prior to the Legenda Secunda.^ 

2. He may however, whilst following the ground-plan of Celano's work, 
have compiled from the original documents which Celano made use of ; and 
the instances of verbal correspondence between the two legends may be due 
to tlie fact that both were taken from the same source. This is more 
proljaljle ; for the style of the Legenda 3 Soe. almost precludes the con- 
clusion that the author was quoting directly from Celano : so far j\I. 
Sabatier's Critique of the Legenda 3 Soc. seems to me conclusive.^ 

3. Whoever the writer was, he was not of the militant party of the 
strict observance, though his sympathies were eminently drawn to the 
primitive There is in the style a clear detachment from the rest- 
lessness and agitation of the militant partisan. He cm speak with a cer- 
tain pride of the grand basilica built in honour of St. Francis even as he 
takes a pride in the poverty of the saint and the first brethren. 

4. The legend was not written much later than 1270, since it does not 
mention the Porziuncola indulgence. 

5. The writings of the companions may have contributed matter to 
the Legenda 3 Soc. ; but in any case they are not the sole source of the 


* * 

The case is different when we como to the Speculum Perfectionis. 
Here we undoubtedly have some, if not all, of the documents written by 
the three companions. 

If we compare the Speculum Perfectionis with the second book of the 
Legenda Secunda, it is at once evident that the two works are in the main 
closely related in both matter and form : and a study of the two docu- 

1 For instance cap. xviii. seems to show an acquaintance with the legend 
of Julian of Speyer. 

' De Vaulhenticiti de la LSgende da Saint Fram;ois dite des Trois Gom- 
pagnons (Paris, 1901). 

2 Besides the authors already cited, of. A. Piereug, La Qutstion Francisc